By Melissa Peacock
Life is like a freeway that everyone travels. We take different exits to get to places and things that we need to run our lives. Some exits take us to our jobs. Some lead us to family, or volunteering, or caregiving, or any number of places I can’t think of right now. Our exits are very individual. At this troubling time, we all have taken the same exit to the same place – a rest stop.
We each do different things at rest stops. I run to the bathroom first! It’s about me first, my need. Then I chat with my family or anyone else standing around. I stretch my legs, and then I get back in the car and continue on down the freeway.
This rest stop is very different. And so are our needs. It’s an uncomfortable rest stop, not what we are used to. Most of us have time on our hands, others don’t. Some of us need to be around people, others don’t. Everyone has plans they want to accomplish and some accomplish them, others don’t.
This rest stop gives us an opportunity to do things we may not previously have taken time for. It can be a time to lean into your grief, cry, scream, throw dishes. I always wanted to, but I knew I would have to clean up the mess.
Others of you will put the grief in the back of your mind and focus on your family, play games with the kids, talk with your spouse, and try to enjoy the time. Those of us who are alone might have different options. Some of us will wallow in our grief. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s bad. I personally love and need a good wallow. I have had some short wallowing periods lately. There are some who will be desperately missing our group night because it’s their only safe place for grieving. The mask comes off and the feelings flow unjudged.
I am three years and six months into my trauma. I use my time at this rest stop for several things: To reflect on who I am now; why I miss some of that old me; and will I ever get her back? Do I want her back?
Since my move six months ago, I have had to purge some things I would have preferred to keep, so I reflect on the memories they bring up. Will they make me happy, or am I keeping them for someone who will never be around to enjoy them? Most of those items I’ve had to part with. I decided to give them to family, friends and strangers who I hope will enjoy them for what they are.
I wonder where I will be a year from now? Will I like that person? Will the grief still show in my eyes? Or will I be happy again, go back to being social, and find a new adventure to enjoy?
My first wish for you would be to use this exit for what it is. Your “any kind’ of rest stop. It is ok to share the different emotions with the other emotions. Don’t feel guilty about one or however many you choose at this time. Put down the news and social media; be social with yourself. There will always be someone around to keep you up to date. Know that there will be a time, probably sooner than later, when we will all be getting back on the freeway, continuing down the road.
My second wish for you is that you don’t look back at your rest stop and wish you had rested.
Bereaved Parents of the USA
Sacramento-South Placer County Chapter