Grief Changes Us

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, wearing cactus and thanking her lucky stars she's not roadkill.“What kind of progress do you feel you’ve made?” This was the question posed after each member of the small group checked in with a brief personal status report. For various reasons, people were uncomfortable with the question. “Have you experienced any movement?” it was rephrased. They went around the table twice before it became obvious I had not contributed.

Progress implies a destination or goal. Progress is what I am making with my manuscript. But I do not have a direction for my grieving. I don’t believe grief is something to get over or through.
Movement, yes; grief changes. I have changed.
Last week marks four years since my daughter died and I am not the same person I was before. I am no longer stuck like a bled-dry carcass getting pummeled on the highway.

Realizing I would have to say something to the group, I quickly came up with an idea: “People,” I said, as in, “people became more important to me since my daughter’s death.” The first thing that flies out of my mouth is often the closest I can get to the truth:

When my daughter died, I thought I was alone. I couldn’t see beyond my wretched self. Marika had left behind a heartbroken brother and father, aunts and grandparents. Friends. But I was too deep into my own misery. It took time to discover other parents in pain and people struggling with all kinds of loss. Later still, I began to hope I could offer comfort to others who grieve:

I want to tell those who are new to grief that it does change; it gets lighter, especially when you share with other people.

I want to thank all the people who hugged, wrote, called, emailed, responded to me on my site and on Facebook. If it weren’t for you I might still be roadkill.

 

How have you been changed by loss?

 

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9 thoughts on “Grief Changes Us

  1. Pingback: Time to Make Changes | ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE - EVEN JOY

  2. Leslie Ehrlich

    After I lost my son, Jonathan, at the age of 18 to death from asthma. I was left with a great deal of grief and regret, but I did learn a very important lesson: life can end very suddenly, so watch your step and try to act so that you will have few regrets. I should add that no lesson, however valuable, is worth the price.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      You are right. These “lessons” we wouldn’t wish on anybody. I think I knew about Jonathan. It was before I met you maybe but it was something I didn’t want to know about. It was too scary to me then to know this about anyone back then. That is one regret: not being there for friends experiencing loss. As for “watching your step,” yes, that and carefully watching life, time, and every blessed bit of joy. Thanks for being here, Leslie.

      Reply
  3. Lucy Bergström

    Robin, Marika’s death has sharpened you, turned you into an acute writer. The metaphor about roadkill is so apt. You feel dead and are constantly pummeled but you can’t die. I haven’t been there (yet) but now you helped me see and feel what it’s like. Thank you so so much for exploring and sharing your grief, for letting it help you lighten yourself. I’m sure what you write is a huge help to others who are experiencing loss in an open-wound way.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank YOU, Lucy. I appreciate your “tuning in.” Much as I hope you never have to go through some of these feelings, I know we all go through this at some time or another. I hope we all have good friends around when we do. That’s what “lightens” it and makes it possible to live on and grow. Cheers for the compliment on my writing.

      Reply
  4. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, I found the same thing in my grieving–people became much more important. But it took time for that to happen. I think at first I pushed them away, I just felt alone in my grief.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I guess we all have to go through some of the same motions. I remember wanting to be left alone. It didn’t feel good. But I didn’t want to feel good at that point. Thanks for responding, Lynne. It means a lot to me to know you’re out there.

      Reply
  5. Elaine Mansfield

    Thank you, Robin. People who have been through a deep grief aren’t surprised that I still grieve for Vic. Sorrow is still there every day, but it’s changed so much. I am no longer raw with grief or shocked by its intensity. I’m used to carrying it quietly close to my heart where I can feel the love.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I think I know what you mean, Elaine, when you say “I’m used to carrying it …” It’s still sad but I am used to it now. Thanks for being out there inspiring me.

      Reply

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