The real grief, day 2

So I wondered if I was grieving wrong before because I couldn’t feel anything and wondered if the real breakdown was coming. I know now that no, I wasn’t “grieving wrong” but that my brain was protecting me from what it couldn’t handle.

Last night I had trouble sleeping and then when I tried, I had very lucid dreams (alas, no contact with J) and I was noticeably really starving—which I haven’t been in months, maybe years. When I got up, my body was still trying to hang on to sleep for a really long time.

Unfortunately, when I woke up, I wasn’t still feeling hungry anymore. I guess that’s going to be another stage in my healing process and I’m not there yet.

Now I’m feeling everything and it’s not pretty. My sleep schedule is completely whacked out. Even my menstrual cycle is reacting. I say that only because it shows how strong the mind-body link is and I think that similar reactions to major trauma explain some of the reasons for extremely early menopause in other women in my family.

Basically, I haven’t had a period since the week before J died and I chalked it up to perimenopause. But now that I am facing my grief, it feels like it’s coming back.

I’m realizing how powerful denial is and how easy it would be to slip into it. I could have very easily stayed in that state forever and I think it was only that my friend (who’s also working toward becoming a therapist himself) recognized the sadness in my eyes that it snapped me out of it. And now I feel like I’m really beginning the real grieving process.

Not that this is a new wave of grief. Many people say there are waves of grief. No, this is completely new and different. It’s like there was this hard, thick layer of ice around my emotions before and it’s finally melted away. I feel completely raw and exposed to air and everything hurts.

I wanted to do so much today. I need to change the cat litter and clean the kitchen and take out the recycling and get stuff ready to mail and reply to blog comments. And change my sheets and wash my laundry and take a shower. But in truth, all I got done was finished an article by deadline.

I also want to keep writing for Medium but I can tell that I need time and rest before being able to write my next article. I thought I would write about becoming unthawed emotionally but it has become clear that the next thing I have to write is about the abuse J grew up with…again.

I’m thinking more about his life and I am angry and sad about what he went through. That’s such a heavy topic and it’s going to take brain power that I just don’t have right now to write it.

I actually have to sit with it and feel it and think about it. Doing so is incredibly emotionally draining. I will be glad when I do it because I know it will be a purging and it will probably be a good article, too.

But I’m actually having to gear up to write, which is new. I’m starting to understand my creative process and how it works now.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to focus on my writing and my physical and mental health instead of trying to date anyone. It doesn’t sound as fun but it’s what needs to be done.

And now even though I’m not tired per se, I’m just so mentally drained that all I can think about is going to bed early.


  1. SH says:

    I don’t know what Medium rules are on fundraising but maybe it’ll help to have a bit more of a financial buffer. It’s really unfair that you have to work when grieving, and have chores to do as well. If a local friend of mine was in such a situation, I’d organise in-person help / go myself to tackle chores.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holly says:

      I wish. I mean, I could put the link to my fundraiser in there and publicise it more widely again but I just get this sense that I’m supposed to be able to handle it from now on my own, no matter how overwhelming it gets.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Holly says:

      I went ahead and posted an update to my fundraiser asking for more help. It’s embarrassing but it needed to be done and thank you for reminding me that I could/should.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. SH says:

        I can understand the embarrassment and the shame (if you have that too). Like my therapist told me when I couldn’t go on by myself on my own… “Accept help now, so that you can give back later.”

        You’ve donated food, lots of money, clothing*… humans are interdependent, and you’ve helped so many people which perhaps you don’t know you’ve helped on Medium or elsewhere. Everyone deserves the support they need to survive, live and thrive. Yourself included.

        (and good quality office wear is really expensive so it’s very generous too.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Holly says:

        Thank you. Yes, I do battle with a lot of feelings of shame when I have to accept help. It’s very difficult for me to do.

        You’re right that I have helped others in a lot of tangible ways. It’s just hard recognizing and admitting that sometimes I need it too.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. SH says:

        You absolutely need and deserve help. ❤️ Capitalist, ableist nations and systems within teach all of us that we should be completely self reliant, like it’s a deep shameful thing to need help. I can’t say I’m good at healing those messages I’ve internalised for myself, but I believe you deserve healing from those internalised messages within you.

        Clearly, you’re a compassionate giver, including when you have over self-sacrificed (I’ve my own stories of such financial decisions) for others, because you don’t judge them harshly.

        Maybe like this rather fable about individuals unable to feed themselves… we’re meant to be interdependent, to have community care, to give and also to receive.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. SH says:

    (Also, you’re never obligated to reply to any comments ❤️)

    Liked by 1 person

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