The Benefits of Grief

Grief has become my dark passenger.  It comes in different forms: anger, denial,  guilt, and depression.  It chooses when to show itself and when to take hold of my mind.

I picture Grief as a specter, dressed in a black garment while a dark mist sits at its feet.  The air becomes thin the closer it gets to me. There are moments when I feel my sorrow wailing up inside of me, when I can feel the deepening sadness grow.

At times Griefs sits in my peripherals staring at me, motionless, as if he was analyzing and waiting to exploit a moment of vulnerability.

Other times there are no signs that Grief is present only to reveal itself suddenly like an assassin.   I’ve cried spontaneously not knowing what triggered it.  The event is random, almost like a sneeze.  Even when I’m in the refuge of friends, family, and laughter Grief will suddenly appear and choke me. When this happens I try my best to mask my pain, as if I have an embarrassing affliction and wish to hide it from the world.

I fear sleep now and then.  It’s as if I’m entering a haunted house.  I will wake up with a fast beating heart, fueled by the burning coals of Grief’s anger.  I breath fire and curse Anna’s name. The pain is suffocating at times because I have no emotional regulation.  My heart is an midst of a storm, like a sailor struggling against the elements on the open seas.

But surprisingly, Grief has secondary effects that I couldn’t predict.  This suffering has awaken a sobering maturity that was lacking.

I begin to cry during beautiful scenes that are nice, compassionate, charming, or when people demonstrate a great deal of grace and forgiveness.  Life is tougher than it used to be and those tears are a reminder of what I value and long for… more than ever: compassion, the good, and love.

Because in reality, life is not always like that in the context of life’s ugliness. People will disappoint you.  Relationships end almost unexpectedly and without much reason. Finding love, compassion, and forgiveness can feel like an elusive utopia, a dream never to be obtained.  That is why when we see a glimpse of that we react, because we are all too often denied those very things.

So in strange way, I guess I can thank Grief for this new found appreciation for the good and grace in people.  If you process your grief you will be better for it.

“When you’re not afraid of grief, you will make better choices.  And when you make better choices, you will have happier relationships with healthier people.” –Susan J. Elliott



The Bus Dream

The bus had windows that fell from the ceiling to the floor.  It provided a 360 degree view of the outside world.  The bus had every seat filled and had human obstacles blocking the path for an easy exit.

The noise of the passengers was deafening.  I was traveling with my wife, Anna and  I was the one who was carrying all of our luggage.  Without warning, Anna ran towards the front of the bus for the exit.  She weaved through the passengers like a snake chasing a mouse through a field.  I tried to follow her, but the bus’s isles were too narrow to pass through as I tried to carry our bags.

The bus driver closed the door and began to drive. I screamed, “Stop! Stop! Stop the bus! My wife just got off the bus!” The noise of the bus drowned out my pleas and screams.

I gave up hope and sat back down in my seat.  My heart sank in my chest. I was afraid. Time past and I began to fall asleep.  I woke up to passengers stealing my bags and making their way off the bus.  I ran after them.  I left what few possessions I had behind. I looked down the sidewalk and saw the thieves running quickly away from me.

I sprinted after them.

No matter how fast I ran, their outlines became smaller and smaller.

I gave up.

I couldn’t breath and my legs burned.  I rested my hands on my knees and my back was bent forward towards the ground.  I wheezed.

I walked back to where the bus was located.  It was gone and what few remaining possessions I had were lost.  I walked to a bench and sat down with grief and heartbreak.  The lump in my throat chocked me.  My eyes swelled then burst with tears.  My wails and cries were uncontrollable.  There were many bystanders walking around me, but they did not react or noticed.  The world was with me, but the world didn’t see me.

Time passed.  The tears and cries were controlled, but there was a hole in my chest were my heart once rest.  A new bus pulled up.  I stood up and walked up to the opened door.

“Where is this bus going?”

“Doesn’t matter,” the driver said.

Inside the bus it was quiet with only two passengers– one sat in the front and the other in the back.  The bus’s doors closed and I made my way to the middle of the aisle and sat near the window.  The bus began to move.  Where ever this bus goes, I’m here and there’s nothing I can do about what has happened.  I’ll do my best to enjoy the ride and reflect.

This dream hit me pretty hard.  Anna left me when I least expected it. At the time, I was away in a different state on military orders— I was helpless. She expressed to me that she had fallen in love with another man and her heart no longer felt anything for me.

I felt abandoned and alone.  I felt I lost everything and I had no control of what happened. I was blindsided.  I loved being married.

This dream manifested all my emotions in a very poetic scene.

It was the first step in moving to accepting my new reality and understand that this event was irreversible and would forever change my life and throw my future into absolute uncertainity. An identity crisis followed.

My childhood dreams of being a one woman kind of man, to never experience divorce, and have a family of my own was shattered. My identity and purpose has been temporarily lost.

I am a broken man. But there are tools to heal a broken heart.

*This was ground zero of my emotional journey *