I know I am wearing clothes and shoes, and that my toddler son is in my arms. There are people from all walks of life going in and out and pushing past us as I stare blankly at the menu.
Vaguely hearing conversations around me and deep fryer alarms going off over the background music, I place my order for two “Happy Meals.”
I know this meal isn’t a magic potent or an easy fix for my pain, but there is nothing about grief that makes sense. So I pay quickly, dash out the door instead of staying like I planned, retreat to my car and gulp down my meal. This meal has the potential to change it all. EAT THIS MEAL AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY.
When I finish eating, maybe this feeling of numbness will go away. Maybe next time I will smile back at the person working behind the counter, and I can wash away the “W” on my forehead that I am sure everyone around me can see.
I have a professional career and have not been diagnosed with a mental illness, but I feel like I am losing control. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, I feel ill when I realize I am a widow.
Guzzling down my meal, I know what I am doing is not rational, not normal. But now I’m sobbing in my car, listening to my son babble in his car seat, smiling through his milk mustache.
All I want is to be happy again, to find a way back to the life I had before…
That is all that anyone wants as they travel through the arduous path of healing after a loss. We want to experiment with quick fixes and to skirt around all the pitfalls and cliffs as we do our “grief-work.”
But there is no way forward, other than to go through. Grief requires us to journey beyond the valley of dark places and to wade through the muck.
Most of us try to short-cut the drudgery, using avoidance and silence, or we plant a fake smile on our faces, hoping others won’t see the pain beneath it. We often don’t speak our truth when we asked, “How are you?”
The truth of how I felt that day in McDonald’s could best be described by the lyrics of John Legend’s song entitled, All of Me: “My head’s under water, but I’m breathing fine.”
To the outside world, there doesn’t seem to be a problem, but my head and my heart, my body, mind and spirit are gasping for air.
Please remember this if someone you meet in McDonald’s or in your place of business or in the grocery store seems distracted. Griever’s dress and look like you and me. They muddle through “normal” things like eating and shopping despite their heartache – all while attempting to find the HAPPY in life once again.
Shortly after my mother died, I had to buy a toothbrush for the very first time in my life! (I was 32) Mom had always given us new brushes for every occasion – birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc. I was standing in the aisle at the grocery store in front of what seemed like thousands of toothbrushes, paste, and floss. I could feel my chest tighten and the tears well up and had no idea what to choose. An elderly woman (I believe she was an angel) saw me crying, walked over, put her arm around my waist and said, “My dear, how can I help?” She wiped my face, gave me a hug, and helped me pick out 2 new toothbrushes. I don’t know what I would have done without her.
Angels often have wings tucked underneath clothing! I love listening to people’s stories as so many of us have tales of profound interactions with strangers. I personally don’t believe they are coincidence. So glad another “mother figure” was able to support you during your transitional period after your mother’s death.
Thank you for speaking about the simple things that can be so powerful after a loved one dies, what a lovely story Pam!
Really well written…
Thank you Jeff!
Such a powerful post that resonates hugely. Hugs j
Thank you for taking time to read it and share your positive comment. Blessings and hugs back to you 🙂
It’s a post that has stayed with me since I read it and I hope it is widely read as it speaks volumes.
Gosh. What a powerful piece! Contentment will come again.
Contentment like happiness is one of those states that we must seek, accept and cherish when we find ourselves there! That you for your comment and for taking the time to read my posts!
You are a brave soul Hang in there