The journey of grief that came into my life can best be likened to that of a nuclear bomb explosion.
Nuclear explosions produce both immediate and delayed destructive effects. Blast, thermal radiation, and prompt ionizing radiation cause significant destruction within seconds or minutes of a nuclear detonation. The delayed effects, such as radioactive fallout and other environmental effects, inflict damage over an extended period ranging from hours to years.
As life would have it grief is very similar producing both immediate and long term destructive effects. The short term effects which came within seconds, minutes and days of Yolanda’s passing, although extremely painful and confusing seems to have been easier to deal with than the long term effects.
The short term effects almost appear to have a recipe to follow. There are common steps to follow. The final goodbye. Who will be your undertaker and what kind of service do you want. To cremate or to bury. How to communicate with family and friends. At this time I was surrounded by friends and family much like a nuclear disaster team arrives for the initial assessment and containment of the explosion. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who joined this team and assisted physically or in thought. I can’t say that your presence softened the blow but I can say that it certainly helped me to embark on this journey.
The long term effects are the toughest and most unpredictable ones to deal with. There is no time frame. I have discovered that there is no recipe for this part of the journey. Attending grief share and finding books that resonate with how I feel about grief have assisted me on this journey, they however are not a road map to complete this darkness in your life. They are merely candles to illuminate tiny sections of the path.
Let’s be honest and recognize that the circumstances you find yourself in after such an explosion differ widely from person to person.
Learning to cook, better time management, finances, career decisions, finding a support system for yourself and children, being available for my children, concerns about the future both immediate and long term. These have been some of my long term challenges.
One of the coping mechanisms that I have learnt is “living in the moment”. This has allowed me time to focus and not become overwhelmed. I have been able to focus on the immediate situation and to appreciate it for all its goodness or its sheer terrifying presence. I have at least been able to focus on each step. Not looking to far down the path and becoming paralyzed by the overwhelming journey ahead. I am grateful for this lesson. I don’t get this right all of the time but at least striving for it means I am inching forward.
Believe it or not but areas affected from radiation after a nuclear bomb do slowly but surely recover. Will they be the same probably not. Will I be the same again? Most definitely not, having started on this journey I intend to carry each of these experiences as if they were precious cargo. Both the good and bad experiences in the hope that I can live my life in a way that honors the time and influence that Yolanda had and is continuing to have in my life.