Friday, July 9, 2010

Coping With Grief

I am not someone who is prone to falling into a pit of ongoing depair. My grieving ritual involved bursts of unbridled rage (mostly aimed at the coke bottle thrown against the wall, or the multi-vitamins being chucked in the bin) and heaving sob attacks where I couldnt catch my breath for tears. In the early days, I wandered around in a foggy haze, interspersed by said rage and tears. The rage and tears episodes became fewer and fewer as weeks went on and my mood is now on an even keel, with occassional moments of crying and sadness, done in private, late at night as I look at Sybella's photos. I am going on with life...dinner needs to be cooked, laundry needs to be washed, but there is a heaviness and a sadness about me now that is always attached and will never leave, I believe. A cloud follows me everywhere. My emotions run much closer to the surface now. I am outraged when I hear stories of child abuse or neglect (I always felt that, even before Sybella), I want to take all these children into my home and mother them. I want to wipe their noses and tuck them into a warm bed. I sponsor a child through World Vision from Chile. He was involved in the Chilean earthquake a few months ago, and though I keep calling World Vision about his welfare and fervently writing to his mother, I have not yet gotten an answer about whether they are okay. He is only 3 and I lie awake sick with worry about him. I desperately hope to hear from his mother soon.  Despite the cloud, I keep on going. I gave myself projects, once the raw grief settled.
The day we moved into our house was the day I found out I was pregnant with Sybella. It seemed like a sign, that life was starting afresh and positive after a tricky couple of years prior. Because I was pregnant, I did not throw myself into home decor for fear of hurting the baby. I didnt paint or replace anything because of dust and fumes. So when I wasnt pregnant anymore, I went a bit beserk. In the space of three weeks, I had painted the shed (with Kelvin's supervision because I am an ordinary painter) planted a flower garden, replaced the shower, replaced all taps in the bathroom, replaced the cupboard doorknobs and painted the mailbox. I also had plans to get a new front fence and replace all the doors in our house, but those projects need to wait until I get my tax return! All of this helped. I like beautifying things, it makes me calm. My surroundings are important to me. I am not materialistic, but I need my home to be a haven. It is very important that it is calm and soothing and comfortable. I cannot have chaos because it makes me anxious. Funnily enough, Jack and Kelvin are the same. They like the comfort of the home that I have maintained. They appreciate it. I think it makes them feel safe. And I like being the nurturer. Our home is a good balance of comfortable yet ordered. It is in no way sterile. There are always toys on the floor, finger prints on the windows. Jack's preschool paintings hang in the kitchen and the walls are covered with pictures and photos. But I digress. I think that what I am trying to say is that my home helped in the midst of my grief, I had a haven to come to, that was comfortable to be in while I experienced the depths. And the beautification project helped me, not to distract, but to channel my grief in a different way. In a motivated way, if that makes sense. I weeded the garden with tears running down my cheeks, asking God how he could let a weed grow so abundantly, but not my daughter. I slapped paint on the mailbox and felt proud of myself, like I was accomplishing something. I carefully tended to my flowerbed and watered it daily, projecting all my pent-up mothering instincts into growing my flowers.
It's all symbolic in a way. Kelvin said last night that Sybella has given us a beautiful gift. She changed our lives more than any other event can or will. And after she died, it's like all the beauty of her soul flooded into me, and I felt the primal desire to beautify everything around me. So now, when I look at the shed, or the shower, or the flowerbed, I see Sybella. I see her beauty.

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