I was reminded this weekend, of the comparison between the grieving process and labour. Both have stages, landmarks of sorts to a destination.
As a doula, I prepare couples for what to expect during labour and delivery. No matter how much I “tell” them what to anticipate, there is no amount of preparing for the “real” intense experience. What is taught in preparation is based on “textbook” cases; what is experienced is our perception of the “stages” given our emotional health at the time. How many more life experiences have we, as a culture, compartmentalized, or intellectualized based on general human behaviour void of individual emotional factors? There is so much research and literature out there that just doesn’t seem to “fit”.
Much like labour and delivery, there are no two experiences the same when it comes to grieving. There are so many factors involved, so many conditions that it is impossible to predict. My six great losses had me move through the stages of grief at different rhythms, different tides based on where I was emotionally in life.
When I am present to support mom’s efforts in bringing her child into the world, I often whisper, this too shall pass! As she moves through transition, the hardest yet shortest part of labour, I remind her that there is a beginning and an end; that you can only deal with each individual contraction, building on those conquered and not anticipating the ones to come. There are only a few more contractions and you will have something wonderful in the end. I wish I had a doula to whisper in my ear!
Indeed, my life seems in transition. It oftentimes feels overwhelming with some relief between the waves of grief; however, I focus on the outcome of having chosen to live through this process rather than trying to move past it or around it. Breathe, I remind myself; this too shall pass, as did the first days, months and now the first year. Compared to years past and the lifetime to come, this is but a brief moment in time and there will be an end to the intense grieving. At the end, I will be made stronger and wiser not despite my loss but because of it.
The last few weeks have offered me a glimpse of a life made easier by including Bill rather than trying to exclude.
Breathe my tender hearts. This too shall pass.