Lately, I have struggled with being in a pretty miserable mood, which has led to trying figure out why I am miserable. I could tell I was sad, but wasn’t sure what was causing the underlying emotion I felt coursing through me.
In grad school, when studying Grief & Loss, we were taught that people can grieve for any reason a person perceives a loss. And, unlike other mood impactors, grief isn’t a “one and done.” Typically, there are small things that re-trigger the grief – a month after the event, a year later, even decades later. So, as budding clinicians, we were taught to recognize when grief was a healthy response to loss, and when it perhaps required more in-depth clinical intervention.
We were also warned, through the process of grief, not everyone will be grieving for the same reasons. Someone may not care to sell their red truck, for example; yet, another person may really be stricken by grief when they sell their beloved truck. I remember that example simply because my boyfriend at the time (now husband) owned a red truck.
So, as I muddled through, trying to make sense of the head and tail of my root problem, I realized I was sad… I was grieving. But, I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Until last week.
Last week, I said goodbye to two major milestones in my life.
The first was saying goodbye to my first “family” car. VW had issues with their emissions testing (falsifying records) with their diesel vehicles, and when the judgment was handed down by the courts, my husband and I took advantage of selling our diesel back to VW. As my mood shifted darker toward the turn-in date, and the realization sunk in that I was truly parting ways with my vehicle, I remembered our VW had been purchased prior to our move to Hawaii, and had been purchased to be our family vehicle. It was tough saying goodbye to a vehicle older than my son.
During the weekend, I realized the second major milestone which had sent me through this massive funk. Nestled deep in my psyche was the slow acceptance dawning – I was mourning the fact my oldest son is growing up.
My son has been my sidekick since his birth. We have gone everywhere together, and very rarely have I done something without him. And, while I have gotten away during times I needed to do so, we have spent significantly more time together than apart.
And, this week, he started school.
Leading up to this week, I wasn’t sure if I doubted his ability to go full day, or if I was the one unprepared for a full day program. Picking up a boy who burst into tears when he saw me the first day did not do anything to assuage my fears. But, thankfully, his second day went off without a hitch.
His first day came with a loss of my sidekick. It came with the recognition my little guy is growing up. It came with a whole host of new fears – ones which I find leaning heavily on God to take from me.
And so, I was in a bad mood. Until I recognized the underlying grief… the overwhelming sadness that weighed heavily on my heart.
After identifying the cause of my heaviness, I felt it lift. I was able to adjust my concerns and fears, and mourn the loss of the family car and the constancy of my sidekick. My writer’s block lifted.
I was also able to embrace the little moments ahead – which I will explore in my Gratitude Post later this week.
In the meantime, know that grief and loss is personal. It is something that can strike at any time, even over seemingly small changes. What makes one person grieve may seem minute to another; that said, it is normal and natural to grieve throughout life. However, how we embrace the grief is what is most important… and, if it lingers a little too long, or a little too strong, know it is okay to reach out for help!