So we all know that grief is not a straight line. There are many different sides and it all looks different depending on the person. Its a difficult journey, and it becomes even more difficult when one begins to feel overwhelmed. Seriously, one minute you are feeling great and making progress and the next feel like an utter and complete failure. The longer the journey, the more exhausted you feel. It just like a marathon as long as you persist and press on, you will cross the finish line. But let’s face it, its not the beginning that is the challenge, but the miles between that pose the greatest threat to our strength, confidence, and overall outlook on life. I think the worst part is, this the longest and most grueling times that someone can face in their lifetime. It challenges and changes us, but it is for better or for worse? Is one capable of finishing the race with a shred of who we were when we started? Should we?

In the beginning we have a little help. We run on autopilot. When I lost my husband, I was left to be a single mom trying to keep my life together. Luckily, my autopilot took over and help get me through the first few months. Honestly, I felt like those were the easiest. Sure I did my fair amount of crying, and moments where I felt like my world was collapsing around me, but I had so much support that it was easy to push these thoughts and fears aside. Even with all this pain and suffering, it is made much more tolerable with all the friends and family that rally behind you. They take on some of that burden. This almost lures you into a false sense of security. Your mind begins to think that it isn’t as bad as you think it is. You are constantly distracted by something or someone, but this is quite a cruel trick. Just like a marathon the first few miles don’t seem so bad, but how to you feel once you have hit the 10th mile, 15th, etc?

Although I have made huge breakthroughs when dealing with my grief, I can assure you that my strength failed and my confidence ripped to shreds. Responsibilities and the guilt that came with them, hit my like the worst “muscle cramps”. Sleep deprivation made day to day tasks extremely difficult and my temper incredibly short(not that it was long to begin with). I would spend the nights things about that needed to be accomplished, wondering if I spent enough time with my kid, wondering if I will ever be able to fill the shoes of both parents. It truly consumed me. The mom guilt only tacked on another layer, and the burden became more and more difficult to bear. I will admit that part really was crummy, but nothing prepared my for what came next.

As someone who was pretty self confident in my choices, I was not prepared for the wrecking ball that entered my life. Dealing with grief and motherhood not only had me second guessing my choices, at times it had me believing that I was failing my son. To hear him speak of his dad would also make me smile, until he started talking about him often, and then telling me that I was the one who wasn’t present. To hear him say his daddy taught him everything, hit me harder than a ton of bricks. It sounds so silly, knowing that is all not true, that these few words or stories would shake me to the core. So much that I would constantly cry thinking, I have been a terrible mother to my son. I haven’t done or been there enough. My confidence was seeping out of me, slowing draining me until I became a shell of what I once was. To see my son fighting so hard to communicate his frustrations and pain. To see a young child attempting to cope with emotions that are well beyond his understanding. To see his face when he would ask me why he doesn’t have a daddy, like all his friends, was enough to bring me to my knees and sob uncontrollably. Friends, although I knew that I was doing my best and trying to cope just like my son, this changed me…It made me feel as though there was a black hole at the core of my being slowly pulling every piece of my soul into oblivion. When will it end was a questioned as frequently to myself. Are we almost to the finish line? Will my confidence ever recover?

Unfortunately I have yet to reach the finish line. I have made such headway in the race, and I know that I will reach the end one day. However, I will not be unscathed. I will be forever changed in every essence of the word. Looking back on your journey….is that bad thing? Growth is occurring during the darkest times. Mind you, you are growing the most when you least expect it. I have been blessed with a newly found “runner’s high” and I pushing forward to finish. Each and every hill, valley, has impacted my life and provided me with new tools and skills to use each and everyday. It is our choice whether or not to use them. Whatever you are dealing with, remember the story of the tortoise and the hair…. slow and steady wins the race. It does matter when you get there, what matter IS you get there. Be gentle with yourself and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

K. Marin

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