This one was a bad one; there is just no way around it, and there is no way to predict or understand it. Our daughter has been gone more years than I had lived on the day she was killed and yet, this anniversary season was rough, rough, rough. Why? I have no idea.
For the first 10 years or so after we lost Mandy, anniversaries were debilitating, grief-stricken days. If you’ve been there, you know the routine… “This time one year ago we were…” and so on. Then, things began to change a little and those days, while never easy and always sad, were softer and less debilitating. Hard days, but without the violent attacks of grief.
Life and the years rocked along like that for a long time. And then the panic attacks began, out of the blue, and with a horrible vengeance.
Usually, about September 1 each year, my internal clock begins the first strains of an attack. I am a super busy person, and it normally takes a couple of weeks, each day a little worse than the day before, for me to stop and recognize the feelings for what they are. From then until October 11, the panic builds until I don’t think I will be able to survive it. It’s almost as though I have a crystal ball, and I can see the future. I know what is going to happen, and I know she is going to die, and I can’t do one thing to save her.
I also know that if I can just hang on, October 12 will dawn, and that I will be fine for yet another year.
I have no idea if this is “normal” because there is nothing about grief that is normal. Nor do I know if others experience this rollercoaster ride because by the time we have this many years behind us, most of us just don’t talk about the “crazy” emotions we still experience. It makes us look really, really weak, doesn’t it?
I suppose today’s blog was written because I received a call from a mother whose grief is brand new. She thanked me and told me how much reading was helping her, and while I wanted to do nothing but encourage her to hang on, I also knew that I have no real answers for anyone. I simply write about my own mistakes and hope that many of you can avoid the pitfalls that I have fallen into so many times on this very long, dark journey.
I suppose the thing to hang onto is the fact that eventually, the sun does shine and eventually, you will laugh. Although we apparently never completely lose the dark days, they do eventually get farther and farther apart.
Hang in there!