Predicting the Grief Weather
Predicting the Grief Weather
A few days after my brother was killed, I was scheduled to give a Feldenkrais lesson to a new client. We’d been planning it for months and I hadn’t had work in ages so it seemed reasonable to keep the appointment. I figured it would be good to have something to do as I was mostly just walking around crying. Despite my best efforts, it did not go well. We did not connect and a few days later she wrote to say she was going with another practitioner. It’s highly probable that we wouldn’t have been a good match regardless but I feel fairly certain that the roiling grief that was just under my effortful smile was not helpful in this situation. I’m a good actor but there are limits. In retrospect, I should have canceled that appointment and waited until my grief was less acute. I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know what to do in this sort of situation. I didn’t know anything about my own grief. I still don’t.
I feel like if I’ve heard anything about grief over the years it’s that everyone grieves in their own way — that it is a highly individual experience that each person navigates differently, that grief is variable. What I wasn’t prepared for is how variable it would be in my own experience, within myself, how unknown. I feel like I know myself pretty well. I find myself fairly predictable. I usually know when I’m going to hit a rough patch. I know I will hit a low after an artistic high. I am a pretty good meteorologist for my own emotional weather pattern. Usually. With grief in the mix, there are a whole lot more sudden squalls than I would have expected. I try to plan for things but then I realize I do not have sufficient experience for them.
I started thinking about this because my brother’s birthday was approaching. I figured I should plan for it to be hard but I did not how it would be hard. Then a regular client of mine, one who I have helped go from hunched and contorted to upright and smiling, wanted to see me. I offered her many dates, including Will’s birthday and she chose it. I thought, like I thought before, it would be good to be busy, good to help someone. Then I wondered if I’d made a mistake again.
The thing is, though, I can’t know. No one can know. Will it better to be busy or to take some contemplative time? It’s different for everyone and it’s different for me. Like, last time it was a bad idea but maybe this time is a good idea. Or maybe ideas are neither good nor bad right now. In other contexts, I would always choose contemplation. If there’s a question of how to care for myself, I opt for quiet reflection. That’s how we ended up with all these blogs, folks! I’m a contemplator. I’m a considerer. But there’s really nothing to chew over with this. It’s just sad. That’s it. It’s sad on his birthday and it’s sad when it’s not his birthday. Some days I don’t really think about it and some days hit me like a ton of bricks. Will my brother’s birthday be a ton of bricks? Could be. But so could a Tuesday. It’s just impossible to know for sure.
On Thanksgiving, a friend checked in via text because “holidays are hard.” I thought, “Are they? I can’t even remember the last Thanksgiving I spent with Will.” And then I thought, “and now I never will again.” And indeed the holiday was hard, though not in the way I expected.
By the time I get this typed up and posted, his birthday will have passed. He will not have turned thirty the way he should have, had his life not been cut short by a drunk motorcyclist.
I will know then what my emotional weather will have been that day and whether it will have been a mistake to see my client. But truly it is already raining. I’m not really worried about whatever storm is coming because it’s already been here.
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Originally published at http://artiststruggle.wordpress.com on March 25, 2022.