2016 has been a year of firsts. First birthdays, holidays, and countless other milestones that we’re no longer sharing with Laura.
Early on, whenever one of these milestones came about, I would try and prepare for it. I’d pack the day full of activities to make sure my mind wouldn’t remind me that this was a day we’d no longer spend as a family of four.
Occasionally, we’d encounter a rogue wave of grief, but for the most part, it worked. We would go about our day with very little issues. It was what happened the day after these events where I ran into trouble. I’d load my body up with as much activity and positive energy the previous day only to have all of those suppressed negative emotions hit me like a Mack truck the following day. Every feeling I was trying to suppress was compounded into one day – sorrow, misery, fear, and anxiety were just a few. It would usually take several days before this cleared up. The first few times this happened, I just brushed it off and tried to make the best of that crappy week. Eventually, I started to notice a pattern, and it was at this point I realized that I was suffering from grief hangovers.
Here’s a fact about grief, it’s not linear. It doesn’t follow any set of rules or guidelines. No matter how much you think you understand it or feel that you can finally control it, grief will remind you in a powerful way that it can’t be controlled or manipulated. But it does have a weakness, as long as you acknowledge grief, all of those negative emotions that come along with it will fade away much quicker. You don’t have to give them center stage; you just have to recognize that they’re just as important in the healing process.
The next few months are going to be difficult. Laura started to get very sick around this time last year. My wedding anniversary is this weekend, and there are numerous activities and holidays on the horizon – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many other traditions we use to do as a family of four. I’m not going to try and plan a day to forget or suppress any negative emotions. If sadness hits me, I’m going to welcome it, and hopefully, the grief hangovers won’t be as severe. Because much like every first we’ve had so far in 2016, this too will pass.