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  • Writer's pictureA.S. Morris

Grief.

Grief. A five-letter word that encompasses a cornucopia of meanings. Grief isn't linear and can't be tied up as a beautiful bow in the most luxurious ribbons. It comes in all shapes and sizes. I wasn't sure when I would bring myself to put the key to stroke on this one. Honestly, this story will likely have more installments than I know myself. Many installments won't be shared. I write for myself and me alone. While I am confident, this is part one, who knows when I will reach a conclusion?


Grief can be defined in many ways; trouble, annoyance, and a deep sorrow associated with someone's death. There is no "right" way to grieve. I've had more training (really impressive training) than the average bear when it comes to grief, dying, and end-of-life, an occupational hazard in a career that seems like a whole other life in and of itself. While I can sit here and quote Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Lois Tonkin, grief differs when you are on the receiving end. I'm not in an ICU or an OR trying to help patients and families through their most challenging moments; this time, I am (we are) the family. We're experiencing our most difficult moments, moving through our painful feelings, and attempting to redefine normalcy, rhythm, and joy. There is no timeline for how fast one moves through the stages of grief. And as I mentioned before, grief isn't linear. Grief is a ball of yarn knotted and reknotted by an army of mischievous kittens; getting from loss-hurt to loss-adjustment is only possible once you defeat Captain Angry Paws and his band of merry miscreants.


Over the past four months, we have experienced two deep losses. While both of these losses have elements of anticipation - they were not expected. I have never subscribed to the theory that an anticipated loss is more straightforward than an unexpected loss. A loss is a loss. It is not my place to tell you which type of loss is easier to process and accept. We all feel things differently, and that is okay. I am also experiencing loss for the first time as a parent and trying to help our children navigate such profound feelings at a young age. I am also envious of the ability of my children to find laughter again so quickly. If you're a parent, there is the giggle, a melody of joy your children make in the most innocent moments that warms your heart. Yet in between their innocence, I (we) are grieving and managing the reality that these two losses bring. There are many days where giggles are the last thing you want to hear, yet you go through the motions because children don't understand the complexity of grief. A level of comprehension far beyond their years and, honestly, a level of ignorance I'm a bit jealous of.


My husband and I have been asked many questions about these losses and what this will mean for us. Will we stay, or will we go? How are the kids? How are you? You see this at work; you are probably used to this (people have no idea what I do at work...even in my previous life..), or, isn't this what you do at work; couldn't you have done more....(again, my work, doesn't work that way...). Before any decisions are made - we are just going to grieve. Process. Work towards acceptance. There are many stages of grief, and lord knows where we are in that cycle. Captain Angry Paws is still hard at work on his ball of yarn.


Grief is a sneaky sidekick. It pops up when you least expect it. Memories appear when they want and how they want. Good, bad, ugly. My professional world has intersected with these losses. It's been uncomfortable, with some guilt, jealousy, and heartbreak mixed in. There was even a moment when I could be slightly proud of myself. Even as I write this post, these words barely scratch the surface. Should I be more raw, more real? In general, I am pretty private. It's been a hell of a 2023 so far, with a few more challenges peppered in. I have been struggling internally with what to share and what not to share. Even with people I traditionally could say anything to or share anything with.


But even with all of that, we move onward. Two steps forward, and I'm sure there will be an occasional moment, which is okay. Somehow one child finishes school for the year in 12 days, and the other a few weeks later; how is summer already around the corner? While I am not as organized going into this summer as I usually am, we will figure it out. We've been figuring it out these past few months, and at some point, we will find our rhythm again, or our new rhythm, I should say. We're doing some fun and maybe a few rule-bending things, but most importantly, we will see what opportunity tomorrow may bring.




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