With GPS apps on our phones and in our cars, getting lost in the physical world is becoming ever more rare.
But grief is disorienting and every day I must relearn which way is true north.
It has never bothered me to ask directions. I’ll pull off in a heartbeat–ask a stranger–stop a mailman–look for a fire station (they have to know all the addresses of their district). I’m not shy and I’m not proud.
But as a bereaved mother, I’ve struggled to find a map, or guide or landmarks that can help me navigate this wilderness called grief.
Twenty months down this path, here are some practical ways I’ve discovered to help me get through this unmarked world.
It is hard to concentrate so I have learned to break tasks up into smaller units. I might only clean the bathroom sink and then move on to something else, coming back later to do the tub or mirrors.
I have trouble remembering EVERYTHING so important things like my phone and keys ALWAYS go in the same place. My purse has designated pockets for specific items and I hold onto my keys when I get out of my truck so I don’t lock them inside.
Going to the store can be very challenging with all the noise, distractions and people (and the memories of his favorite foods). Even if I’m only shopping for a few groceries, I make a list.
Keeping track of things like phone calls, gifts or thank you notes is also difficult. I use an inexpensive spiral notebook that lives on the kitchen table to write down numbers, notes or anything I need to remember. I staple receipts to a page so that I won’t lose them.
I use a pocket calendar to note appointments, family schedules or important dates. I don’t agree to or change anything until I have it in front of me.
I have learned to ask people to repeat things that I’m not sure I understand. Sometimes it seems as if folks around me are speaking a foreign language because my brain simply won’t process the words.
I don’t apologize for my tears or for my need to give myself space and time to make a decision when asked to do something.
Grieving requires so much emotional, physical and mental energy that there is little left for everyday tasks. But life goes on even if I want it to stop.
This is who I am now, and I will need to make accomodations for that as long as I live.