The social media status read, “he died one week ago today”. When someone close to you dies the amount of time they have been gone is measured first in hours and days. When that one full week hits it is a milestone that you never wanted to have.
How can this be?
An unexpected death can shake us to our cores. The denial is strong. We think, “how could this be; why didn’t they call for help, or I should have known, I should have done more.” Unfortunately in many cases there is little you could do to change the untimely death. But now, as time passes we measure each breath without them, one week, one month, one year. Each is a small piece of acceptance and recognition that they are gone forever.
As you come upon each milestone how do you respond? I don’t want to ask how we should respond because there is no one way to grieve. As we know grief looks different on everyone. Some wail and let it be known that this hurts so bad. Others find solace or safety in isolation and silence. Most don’t know what to do or how to feel and it just pours out when it can’t be held anymore.
He died one week ago…
One week is the rawest of time stamps on someone’s absence. The pain is so deep and so new. The denial is strong. You can almost believe that if you go to sleep you will wake up and it will all have been a horrible dream. Instead, you wake up and feel that sickness, that pain as if it was the first time you heard the news all over again. Going to sleep and waking up are two of the worst parts of your day because you are lost in your thoughts and feelings of abandonment.
It has been a whole month now. You recognize their absence but you are not used to it. You still reach out to text them, still hear their voice calling your name. A topic of conversation comes up and you think, let me ask “dad” what he thinks and you pick up to dial his number only to remember that he will not answer. The pain is still so real and tender.
No longer can you say “he died one week ago today”. Now it has been one whole year since they have been gone. Much of the pain comes rushing back on this day. How could so much time pass without them? It feels scary to be so far away from the last time you spoke to them. It feels scarier still that only more time will pass from here. You ask yourself, will I forget what they felt like, what they sounded like? Will they fade into the past and I have to leave them there?
Just like all grief it may look different for you. Your one week, one month and one year may look different and feel different than others. Each of these markers can be significant in your overall grief story.
You Are Not Alone
If you are struggling with your grief or just need to check in with others who have similar experiences seek out support. Counselors, therapists, grief support groups. There are many different professionals and empathetic listeners who are there to support you as you walk through your grief.