Monday, January 28, 2013

No pain. No gain.

I remember the pain I felt after hearing the news of Dude's death like it was yesterday.  It literally felt like my heart and my body had been ripped in half and would never heal. After I finished screaming at the horror of it all(in my office -- awesome.), I could barely talk, barely breathe and I was certain that not one but two funerals would need to be planned -- his and mine. The tears wouldn't stop coming, but I had to keep it together in some fashion because I had a job to do. I had to make sure all of our college friends and his law school friends  heard the news. I also had to step in and help Mike's mom and brothers with anything they needed. In the weeks that followed, I spent a lot of time on the phone and in coffee shops. Many of his friends who I didn't know that well requested to meet with me to send their condolences and discuss what happened. It was as if I was on auto-pilot. I told the same story over and over, numb to its impact. I spent time dodging questions about details that Dude wouldn't want shared and sounding like a broken record as I repeated, "He wasn't himself.  Focus on the man you remember him to be. To tell you all the details of the last four months would be to tell you of a person you wouldn't recognize. He wasn't himself at the end.  Remember him for who he was." An unsatisfactory answer that didn't do much to help with our friends' pain, but it was the truth.

As I repeated that statement over and over, I thought to myself "He wasn't who he was and because of this tragedy I have no idea who I am anymore."  Not only had I spent the majority of the last year doing everything I could to take care of him and love him, Dude was my best friend, a huge part of me.  Now he didn't need me anymore.  He was happy and healthy. But, I needed him. I was devastated.  A huge part of me is gone. Forever.

The pain was so deep and unlike anything I'd ever felt before. One night I texted his brothers "Advil doesn't help."  For some reason,  I foolishly thought Advil would help alleviate the pain of this heartache. After talking to his youngest brother for awhile, the pain started to dissipate.  Talking to his family is one of the biggest helps when the pain gets intense.  Maybe it is because they understand the intensity of the pain? Maybe it is because they are my connection to my best friend? I don't know, but it helps. I went to the doctor for a yearly check-up two months after tragedy and he knew something was wrong.  He commented that I was so tense he could barely examine me. I told him what happened thinking he would surely give me some medicine to relax me. Nope. He wanted me to be able to feel the pain because confronting the emotions and the grief was the best way for me to begin the healing process. He felt the drugs would just numb the feelings. If things got worse and I felt trapped or like a danger to myself, I'd come back, but I've been able to manage without the drugs -- and a little wine every once and awhile. It was/is necessary for me to feel the pain to move forward.

 Almost 10 months into this grief journey, there are still times of intense pain.  Dude's birthday. Thanksgiving. Christmas. My own birthday - he always made sure to do something special for my birthday.  All of those times make sense -- times when his presence is clearly missed.  Lately, I've been slammed with unexpected waves of intense grief.  The first time caught me off guard.  The second time was a little worse.  This last time I felt like the intense grief lasted all.night.long even though I'm sure it didn't.  I wanted to attempt to figure out a pattern so I could learn how to best manage the emotions if and when they come again. I realized the intense pain/grief has recently returned when my friends have celebrated major events in their lives -- engagements, weddings or babies. This now makes sense because they are a reminder of events Dude will miss. He will not meet my future husband. He won't attend my wedding. He will never know my children. He is/was such a huge part of my life and not having him at those major events makes me very sad.

Grief sneaks up on me but I am learning to manage it when it does.

No pain. No gain. That expression applies to working out in the gym and to grief.

{and even to Jesus. Jesus had to die on the cross for those who believe in Him to live forever. Talk about pain for our gain!}

 I'd rather kiss the pain goodbye, but I know it is helping me to deal with this tragedy and helping me to move forward.

In this case, pain is gain.

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