I woke up this morning a couple of minutes before Scott. His alarm went off shortly after. He had to get up for work. All I could think about were those people in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I opened my daily news app and was immediately exposed to the faces of the fallen members who were taken so violently and far too soon.
Here I am sending my person off to a day shift. The same day shifts those members were sent off to. Likely, in the same way.
Goodbye, I love you.
I am careful about what I say now during goodbyes because the simple “don’t die” comment I made when I sent Nick off for the last time has stuck with me ever since.
I think about those families. The spouses and the children and the extended family and friends. That’s all I ever think about when I hear about any loss. I am two and a half years out from my darkest grief, but I can feel it. I can take myself back there at any given moment, and I remember every thought and every feeling like it was yesterday. I don’t like to do this often, but at the same time, I never want to forget how it felt.
Remembering helps keep me in check, and it helps me with perspective.
Last night Scott and I were laughing and joking and trying to plan our lives. I am not sure why we keep doing this when we know most things don’t go as planned. At least not for us. We have a baby boy coming very soon, and we really haven’t prepared anything. Not because we haven’t wanted to, but the reality is, this move has been chaotic and living out of a suitcase doesn’t exactly make it easy to nest for a baby.
“So Scott should we buy some diaper cream or something?” Scott’s response, “Well we don’t need it until he needs it.”
We have a name picked for him so we will call that a win.
With all of that, we are still laughing.
I asked Scott last night, “Did you ever think your life would be like this again?” Scott laughed and said, “No, but I am really glad it is.”
When we met, we were both far from okay. We both entered this relationship with a significant amount of emotional baggage, and neither one of us can deny that alcohol was a big part of our relationship. Was that a good thing? Probably not but yet we have managed to make it this far.
By knowing that things can get worse in a matter of seconds and as long as we are together, and have one another’s back; we can get through anything.
Even my pregnancy hormones.
We had to decide early on that we were in it for the long haul.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
When I asked Scott that question last night I was asking because I was thinking about those police officers who died. I was thinking about the horribly painful and exhausting journey their families are about to go on, and I was thinking about where my head was at during each part of my journey.
I never thought in a million years I would find myself two and a half years later pregnant, in love, and undeniably happy.
I was told I would be happy again, but I never believed it, nor did I want to. It’s such a hard thing to consider when you are engrossed in so much pain. I have met so many people who share a similar story as me, and when I see them in the midst of their early grief, I just pray. I know they will be okay, but only they can realize that, and I can’t force them to believe, just like no one could force me.
I came across a video of Sheryl Sandberg this morning where she speaks to a group of graduates about her experience with the death of her husband. I have grown to love Sheryl, her books, and her ability to use her large platform as a way to advocate for those who are grieving, because lord knows, there is not enough awareness surrounding the realities of grief.
She spoke about Martin Seligman. Seligman is another person I have grown to love. I am fascinated by his notion of positive psychology, and it has become my preferred area of study.
She talked about Seligman’s three P’s. Personalization, Permanence, and Pervasiveness.
Concerning grief, these three P’s are very apparent in one’s journey.
Personalization – I am not sure I know anyone who has suffered a traumatic loss who didn’t, at some point, blame themselves. I went through an extended period where I blamed myself. I blamed myself for saying “don’t die” to Nick as he left. I continually blamed myself for not encouraging Nick to ride with a more experienced group and to also become more experienced himself before going out in some of their terrain choices. I blamed myself for not texting him back that morning, and I blamed myself for not being there with him during his final minutes.
Now looking back, I know, in no way, was Nick’s death my fault, and there was likely nothing I personally could have done to prevent it.
Permanence – When you suffer from trauma, depression, or any kind of set back, it is especially hard to believe that anything will ever get better. I find it serendipitous that I came across this video when just last night I was asking Scott, “Did you ever think your life would be like this again” and that his answer was a solid No. I agreed with him completely, and although our circumstances resulting in our depression were different, it goes to show how prevalent the thought of permanence is when you are at the bottom of the hole.
Neither one of us believed life would be good again, let alone beautiful, and yet here we are.
It is possible and hard times DO NOT have to be permanent.
Pervasiveness – This is one that requires a great deal of perspective to overcome. Pervasiveness regarding grief means not only is the loss of your loved one a bad situation, but it makes every part of your life terrible as well.
I often hear the phrase, “everything is more beautiful when you are in love,” the same goes when you are grieving, only opposite, “everything is dark when you are grieving.”
Is this true?
Well, it depends on how you approach the idea. I personally made a considerable effort to see the blessings in disguise, and although I don’t believe this is a simple process and it’s much easier said than done, it is this process, in which I believe, was the catalyst to my recovery.
However, don’t for a minute think that I didn’t have several days where I uttered the words, “I hate my life.” Did I have a right to say that? Well, I went from a blushing bride to be, to a grieving unwedded widow, just like that. I would say I was justified in feeling the way that I did.
Being able to overcome pervasiveness takes a great deal of thought management and perspective shifts, and it’s something I am truly passionate about having gone through it. It is certainly not easy, in fact, it’s probably one of the most challenging processes one may ever have to go through. Seeing the light when you are buried in the dark can seem impossible at times but the only way to build resilience is to work at it. Each time you can remind yourself that not everything in this world is conspiring against you; the more resilient you become.
Although my writing is often related to grief, I believe the three P’s can apply to so many areas of someone’s life. I invite you to remember these three P’s.
Seligman encourages those going through a rough patch to look at their situation and rather than viewing it from the personal, permanent, and pervasive point of view, to look at it from an impersonal, impermanent, and specific point of view.
I strongly encourage you to do this as well. Each time I hear stories of death and grief, like the Fredericton shooting, I am taken back to my own personal experience. I am not sure this will ever change, and as I said before; I am not sure I want it to.
Each time I am taken back I can reflect on what I have overcome and the way my mindset shifted throughout the journey. I can only hope that more people will be able to come out of their own dark times with the same level of insight. However, I am also aware of the reality that there is not enough education surrounding grief, which sometimes makes it very difficult for people to receive the assistance and understanding they need to overcome their hardships and as a result; flourish.
Patience, Perseverance, and Perspective are the three P’s I am most fond of and that have helped me grow.
When I asked Scott if he ever thought his life would be like this again, I was also asking myself the same question. My answer was also a solid No. I am so grateful that I can now look at the daily news and witness hardships, while at the same time knowing that many of those people suffering right now, will someday be able to sit back and ask the same question of themselves and be able to answer the same way Scott did.
“Did you ever think your life would be like this again?”
“No, but I am so glad that it is.”