For the last 12 hours or so I have felt the most calm of any period since my son died Oct. 2. Aside from the obvious and most likely explanation that this is just a random mood fluctuation, I'm wondering whether there is something that happened or I did that helped bring about this very welcome break from grieving.
I think it might be due to working on acceptance. Accepting what happened is, I'd say, if not the first part of this journey at least an essential part of it. Like almost everybody, I've struggled with acceptance. It just didn't seem possible that what happened had actually happened to my son and his family and friends and me.
In a post yesterday I was going on about how I am coming to realize that we are not immune to tragedy, that something like this really could happen to us and not just people you read about in the newspaper. I think it was while re-reading that post that the calm started to settle in. So maybe even before step one of acceptance there needed to be a half-step in which I recognized that, in fact, it was possible for what happened to happen. Then I was primed to accept it really had happened. Could be.
What came next may offend some people and if you are one of those, I apologize. I keep reading in the grief research literature that people who find some benefit in their loss are among those who show the most resilience. The best example of this is someone who has lost a loved one who has been ill for a long time and required a great deal of intensive, constant care. In that case, a death can provide benefit to the bereaved person in the form of relief from a very difficult burden of caring. However, there are other benefits that bereaved but resilient people report gaining from the experience. A couple of those include a greater wisdom and sense of being resilient and able to cope with very difficult situations.
I've mentioned elsewhere that one benefit of our loved ones' passing is that we don't have to worry about them any longer. Lord knows, I was very worried about my son the month before he died. And to have children is always to have some level of worry about them. Now, I don't worry about my son. He is past that point. I don't know where he is, if anywhere, but I feel certain there is nothing I need to do or can do for him now.
None of this talk about benefits is intended to suggest that they in any way outweigh the cost of losing our loved ones. Not even close. There is no conceivable benefit that would make up for it. I'd readily give my own life to have my son back and healthy. (Easy to say, of course, since no such bargain is available. But I do mean it.) The point is as I attempted to find even some slight, theoretical benefit to losing my son, it became easier to accept the fact that he is gone.