For the first year of bereavement, I’ve found that you expect certain things.
You expect the anniversaries to be hard – birthdays, Christmas, holidays – and they are. You expect to feel sad and alone, to linger on the past and get upset over what’s gone, and you know it’s natural to feel like that.
I’m not sure where it comes from, but you also expect a magic switch to flip after the anniversary of the funeral. For a lightbulb to go on, indicating that it’s time to be happy now, to get on with things, that you are somehow failing if it doesn’t happen this way.
It’s been over a year since my beloved sister died. After a few weeks of feeling terrible, with sleepless nights and waves of new grief, I recently dragged myself to the doctor. She helped me understand that there is no lightbulb (duh), and that often things can feel worse after the first year.
You know it’s real. You know it’s hard. You know the person is not going to be there again.
You knew that before, as well, but now it’s sinking in.
A quick search online reveals this to be normal. An article on Huffpost – ‘how did grief get an expiration date?’ – particularly resonated, but there are many more.
Trying to get used to living with grief is going to be the next stage. To that end, I’m attempting to wind some things down, to take it easy on myself, and to take time to think about everything. I’m also taking time to go on walks.
At the start of May I read an article on the BBC about the ‘slow death of purposeless walking.’ It struck a chord with me, and judging by the number of people who retweeted my link or talked to me about it afterwards it struck a chord with lots of folk.
The crux of the article is this: walk mindfully, alone, without music or distraction, for pleasure and nothing else. Go out just to walk. You might be inspired, you might find yourself thinking random things – it doesn’t matter.
I’ve been walking in the early evening, without plans or music, without podcasts and often alone. It’s helping me sleep, it’s clearing my mind, and it’s making me feel calm before bed. I’m also getting lots of ideas, and have simplified the projects I’m working on just now as well.
I recommend it.
As I am a compulsive photo taker, yes, I’m also taking some photos when out walking, but only a couple a week. That’s not so bad…