I came across the following excerpt on a site called Grief in Common. It's referring to the infamous stages of grief. This just seems perfect for today's prompt.
"Because even if “acceptance” is reached at some point, there is a lingering and long lasting side effect of loss … loneliness. It’s the “okay, what now?”. It’s the empty and bottomless ache. It’s the feeling when the sadness feels well-worn and exhausted, and the well of tears has run dry. It’s the point where the grief takes on a new form."
I touched upon how lonely grief is a few days ago when discussing isolation. However, it's such a strange experience and one that's reoccurring yet difficult to put into words.
Grief parents often struggle in their relationships because of the very different ways that men and women grieve. Because of the varied coping mechanisms of each sex, it can feel like you're walking this long dark path all alone some days.
Yet even when I'm surrounded by smiles and feeling loved, I'm lonely. Granted, my loneliness is often self imposed -- I make my face expressionless and stand at a distance, especially when folks are chatting casually about their kids. It reminds me of the lyrics "gonna harden my heart." I've been told I'm hard to read at times, but my harsh body language is there for a reason. I WANT to be included and join in, but feel the need to protect myself from those pesky triggers.
And that adds to the loneliness.
I'm an introvert and have always loved solitutude. Yet solo activities I used to enjoy -- reading, creating something while listening to music, or just relaxing -- are no longer fulfilling. And napping in my "me time" is more out of sheer exhaustion from the grief than anything restful or recuperative ... but that only makes the insomnia at night worse.
My husband and I used to joke that I could never relax and turn off my brain. Now, I feel devoid of feelings a lot of the time and my brain is completely "off," yet I'm anything but relaxed. In fact, the lonely moments (of which there are many) are either those where my head is spinning with crazy thoughts that trigger heavy emotions or just silent altogether.
It's been suggested that I "need a break" from my day-to-day with my preschooler on occasion by several people. As a mom, I completely agree that a MNO or date night is needed by all moms from time to time. But at this point, I wouldn't even know what to do with myself if I had a sitter for a few hours, apart from sitting in a parked car somewhere, staring out into the distance. (Something I don't even realize I'm doing some days.)
I'm a lonely robot. Routine helps and I'm hyper focused on my kid, but maybe that's what I need at this moment. I just wonder what loneliness will look like in a few years, as I know it will always be a companion...
This post originally appeared in the May We All Heal 2018 project on Facebook, based on the one word prompt "Loneliness." For anyone seeking a loss community of like minded moms (and dads), please consider joining that group.