Time just seems to slip slide away when you find yourself navigating a loss.
I’m not talking about how quickly time can seem to go while living our lives. I’m talking about the strange sensation that where time seem to go back and forth between the past and present while trying to recover from a loss or a trauma. It seems to slip slide all over the place. When I feel this happening to me, I take it as a sign that my life needs to slow down a bit and be experienced in smaller increments. Thinking about the future as one huge pulsing package of pain that always feels bad is overwhelming for me and makes it too hard to go on.
Instead, I try breaking my time down into small increments. I try to think of my days as a series of small step that I set as accomplishing one thing and one thing alone.
In other words, I set the pace of what I feel I can handle. As in Step One: I will get out of bed today. Step two: I will put my feet on the floor and make myself walk away from the bed. Step Three: I will eat nutritious food for breakfast instead of pizza or a cookie. I felt like that a lot after my husband died and I had to constantly talk to myself about what to do next.
I find that breaking time down into small increments works when you are stressed to the max or trying to work through a particularly sad time in your life. If you set it up right for yourself you can psyche yourself up to bear up to 10 minutes, then maybe a half hour and then sometimes an hour.
And with each passing block of time, you realize that you got through it, you were temporarily able to think about something else and maybe, possibly, you can do it again, and then you can go about doing it. Each step builds upon itself and after a period of time, you find you have almost gotten through one day.
I vividly remember trying to learn to accept my loss. Even today, after many years, there are some things about my husband’s death that are cemented into my memory. At the time, your mind plays tricks on you and the passage of time doesn’t seem quite right.
There were always those moments — when you first wake up, when you are on the telephone, when you are working — that you forget for a few minutes exactly what your reality is. But then it comes back and knocks you in the tummy. There’s a hole in your life and there’s no getting around it. Ignoring it only makes your situation worse.
You can try to tamp it down as much as you want but it’s still there. Sitting in the back of your memory like a time bomb tick tick ticking away, your unprocessed grief feelings are waiting to explode.
For me, I have found it’s so much better when you take it, grab it and own it. Why not embrace it and absorb it and move right through it?
I know you can do it! Put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
Keep moving forward and I know you will feel more in control of your time and your precious memories.