I remember at about two months into widowhood, I felt like my body would explode from all the emotions, fears and thoughts swirling like a tornado inside of me. I literally felt like I was going insane.
I watched my good sense wash away. I saw my practical nature vanish. I saw normal thought processes consumed by irrational ones. Crazy sensations crawled up my spine and made me feel like the agent at the end of the movie, Matrix, before he explodes.
And rightly so.
But as one who hadn’t dealt with deep grief before, it unnerved me. I thought I was strange. I thought I was mental.
I’d watched others deal with grief. From the outside. Oh, sure, they were sad, but they still functioned. They went to work, came to church, parented their children, attended functions and lived their life. They didn’t seem as crazy as I felt. Surely there was something wrong with how I was processing grief. Surely there was something wrong with how I was coping – what I was feeling – what I was thinking.
I sure felt like I was the weird one. The struggling one. The chaotic one.
The problem is, I can’t see the other’s storm from the outside. I can’t see the million thoughts dancing inside their head. I just see someone driving, watching TV, folding laundry, or sitting at a funeral. You know, because we humans are pretty good at masquerading our pain in front of others.
Inside, they’re really screaming. Inside they’re bouncing back and forth between twenty-four what-ifs. Inside, all the potential scenes of the future they had lost are cascading over them like a waterfall. Inside, they are coming to grips with how the death has rippled change into unseen facets of life. Inside they’re —–
So yeah, they feel crazy, too. Just like me. Just like you.
Grief simply makes you feel mental. Grief makes you feel like you are the only one having such strange sensations. Grief makes you feel like no matter how good or bad you are doing, there is something wrong with you.
I wrote somewhere else ( I think another blog, or maybe my novel…or maybe both. I don’t know!) that grief makes you feel every emotion mankind can feel – all at the same time – while still trying to function in life.
No wonder we feel crazy.
As grief develops from the raw stages and settles into the fabric of life, the craziness doesn’t stop, but it does morph.
When you have a good day, or good week, you feel like there is something wrong with you. How can you have fun or feel normal when you have lost what you have lost? When they are gone? How dare you?
When you are having a terrible day, or a terrible week, with waves of grief, sadness or depression, you feel like there is something wrong with you. Can’t you get a grip on this new life?
When you are having a stressful day, you feel like there is something wrong with you. The stress is compounded ten times because it magnifies your solitude. So you watch yourself go ballistic over something you know in your practical mind isn’t as big of a deal as you’re making it.
So good or bad, you still feel crazy – like there’s something wrong with you.
In the maze of grief, every turn you make to try and maneuver your way through, taunts you with a reminder of how crazy you feel. Because every turn gives you another glimpse of the ten emotions you’re dealing with at the same time. Like a rapid succession of sucker punches to the gut, each with their own unique jab and effervescent aftereffects.
So if you’re dealing with grief, and you (like most of us) are looking at others and comparing yourself and thinking you are the only one struggling with such chaotic, nonsensical, and insane thoughts…don’t worry. You’re not.
You’re not crazy.
It’s simply called grief.