i met with someone the other day who is an internationally known researcher on stress and coping. She has interviewed hundreds of people about loss and talked to me about common myths about bereavement. It was helpful to know, as i suspected, that how one deals with loss is extremely individual. There is no time line-it takes as long as it takes. i also realized while i was talking to her that it is not unusual to hold on to a part of the person that one has lost. i have held on to things because Bruce loved things and i can get a visual, a memory, when i see his things and remember the circumstances accompanying them.
There are also people who can put themselves back in a moment from the past and relive that moment. Individual differences account for this and i am not able to do this. Apparently people who can close their eyes and be back in a moment are good hypnosis candidates. For the rest of us-me included-there may be other things that trigger a memory.
Ultimately, i am coping with this horrific event in my life. i guess it doesn't make a difference whether i am coping well or not-for who makes the quality judgment? i get up in the morning and i function and as long as i keep doing that i guess i will be ok. It doesn't matter whether i want to function or not - i can't even think about what i want aside from him walking through the door. And i have thought about him coming home. i do not think i would be surprised, and the days without him would just melt away-as if this nightmare just ended. i guess eventually this image will also fade.
So in all of her interviews with the bereaved, she could not tell me what makes the difference over time and when it happens that the pain subsides a bit. She could tell me what was not helpful according to the hundreds that she has spoken with. It does not help to have people want to "fix" it-to make you better and get over the loss. It does not help to try to find meaning in the loss-as if there were some reason that it happened. i have people in my life who want to help me put this away, when there really is no place for it. The road ahead is dark and uncertain. i just have to continue on my way, hoping that one day there will be some direction that i am heading towards, and the ground beneath me will be firm.