Recently, I started seeing a therapist about the continued haunts of PTSD. I've known I've had this for a long time now. Today, he took me down a whole different road. While he agrees the PTSD from combat and beyond has had an impact on me in devastating ways, he offered something new, something additional, that I had overlooked. The fact that I've overlooked this for so long both relieves me and worries me (although the latter is a whole other animal). He asked me about the things I've lost in life. What, who, does it hurt, how does it hurt, did I grieve, how do I grieve? Then we drilled into the last of that... grief.
I haven't processed grief since 2002 with the loss of my mom. Perhaps, I've never processed it from this new view. Looking at it, I recently sent a Mother's Day card where I wrote to this amazing person with a reference about my mom. At the time I wrote the comment in the card, I didn't think much of it other than it's simply been a fact of my life for almost two decades and the card was a celebration of the receiver. Right? At the time of my mom's death, I didn't go to the funeral. I had used up my leave time and we had just recieved orders for a force buildup in Kuwait in case things in Iraq went bad. Yeah, she died just prior to my first Iraq deployment, the start of the war. I had some other, extremely heavy losses since then. While I did bury my dad, I wasn't able to grieve then, either. Not really. Then later came three older siblings, my own family, many friends, love, my life, my future, my sense of self, etc, etc, etc. And I spent time trying to hold a funeral for most of those in my mind, but when I close my eyes and image what it means to bury and move one, I'm the only one there at those imagined funerals. Even the funeral, by its practice, is devoid of others... empty. Loss. Yet, the show, my life, must move on. We all have responsibilities, don't we?
How do people go so long overlooking what should be so obvious? How did this, while so in my face, still get "overlooked"? I missed the mark. I've watched others here struggle through grief, even memorialize their loss, and I recognize and empathize with them. But then, how IS someone supposed to process grief? What should healthy grief look like when I hold one of these "pretend" funerals in my mind? What does grief itself look like? Is it really ok to take time to grieve? There's a lot of responsibilities in life to put on hold to get over shit. I want to spend a few weeks or more on this and get to the bottom of why I don't/didn't really experience a healthy grieving process for the shear volume of loss for so much of my life. Thank God for therapy...
by Rory Andes
It's supposed to get bad before it gets better. But, getting better is hopeful....
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