finding an outlet for the memories

We discussed what to do with the stuff, and that part was easy.  The stuff can be controlled, sorted and compartmentalized, giving you a sense of conquering your feelings.  But the real, intangible emotions, feelings and memories are slippery and complicated; figuring out what to do with these is much harder.  I really don't have the answers to this one.  I've tried a few things, struggled with some decisions, and ultimately it is still a big tangled jumble in my head.

Immediately after Greg died, I was surrounded 24/7, physically and emotionally, by family.  I have 18 first cousins, every last one of whom dropped everything and showed up for me.  For all of us, of course, but invaluably, forcefully, for me.  I did not have to make any decisions about the memories because they flooded forth from my cousins, surrounding me with love and memories and, believe it or not, laughter.  They kept me going and without them, I do not know what would have happened to me that week. 

Let me just pause one moment here to say that I do not devalue the amazing solid rock that Mike was for me and for my parents and family, as well as the support of my aunts & uncles and friends.  It was all key in getting me through.

I make no secret, though, of the fact that my cousins saved my life that week, kept me grounded, allowed me to cry and scream and yell and talk and laugh and weep.  Some of them, particularly, shared almost every moment with me that week, and because of them, the good, happy memories shone through the pain, starting even from right after Greg died. 

Later that year, I tried writing in a journal.  I carried it around with me and when a memory hit me that I wanted to hold on to, I wrote it in the journal.  It was sporadic and unnatural, though.  It didn't feel right or comfortable.  I kept on with it for a few months, but eventually gave up and I'm sure it's still around here somewhere but I don't even know where it is right now. 

As I waded through the grief process and tried to sort out the right place for the memories, I felt a lack of focus, a lack of support, a lack of outlets and people who understood; I have discussed this before.  Though I know there was so much love for me, I often felt isolated in my grief.  I struggled with the decision of whether to seek out a grief group or a therapist.  I soon abandoned the idea of a grief support group, because I had support.  I had people holding me up.  What I didn't have was someone who understood my situation and my kind of loss.  Someone to truly understand what it means to be not an only child. 

I eventually abandoned the idea of seeing a therapist, too, and I'm still not entirely sure that was the right decision, but it's the decision I made.  Around the time I abandoned that idea, I started this website.  It has served, in its own way, as a healing therapy for me.  It has done wonders for me and I really enjoy spending time here.  Like the journal, though, I don't find it a comfortable place to share and store memories most of the time.

And so the memories float around, without a specific outlet or landing pad.  When something triggers a memory of Greg, it is usually just a wispy, foggy thing, sometimes even just a feeling or emotion or sense of deja vu without a concrete memory.  These types of memories are very personal for me.  It is rare that I share them; they are mine.  I usually share memories and experiences relating to my brother only when they fit naturally into conversation.  

I make an effort to chat to Emmett about his Uncle Greg, but it is definitely an effort.  When one of those fleeting memories is triggered while Emmett and I are home, I try to drag it out into consciousness and talk to him about it.  It is very difficult, but also feels a bit therapeutic to me, and I want it to become more natural to talk out loud to Emmett about Greg.  It is important to me that Emmett knows his uncle through stories and pictures.  It is a step in the right direction for me, I think.


maresi said...

Nothing could have kept me away from you that week. It was the 2nd thing I said to my mother when she called me - I WANT TO COME HOME.

Maybe when Emmett is a little older and naturally more curious about that handsome man in the pictures and asks questions himself it might get a bit more natural to share with him.

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