A pile of dirty snow and sand.

Throes of winter

The midwest winter this year has been very harsh.

We don’t normally have sub-zero temperatures, but a week ago we were hit with the polar vortex and made staying inside a necessity for safety. Being forced inside for any length of time is enough to drive one crazy, especially for how things have been around the corners of my mind lately.

I hate winter. I truly, deeply, hate it. The bitter cold wind, the dirty grime of the salt-covered roads, the gray sky; everything with this season reminds me of death.

Because of this, I find it fitting to have a season like this as I go through a season like this. It’s been 16 weeks since mom died, and there have been a few very rough spots.

The worst was around the three-month mark. January 12 was a very low day for me. It was emotionally debilitating, and when it hit me it really came out of nowhere. There was a point that day when I took a shower and laid down in the tub. I didn’t have the energy to stand. I felt so broken. I cried so much. And the strangest thing is I can’t fully explain why. I suppose that was simply the day my mind chose to grieve, and my body was forced to submit.

I wonder how I have looked to people around me. I’m sure in my day-to-day life I’ve looked like I was “doing fine.” I was not.

I decided to get some help. On the recommendation of a friend, I sought out a counselor. I’ve had a few sessions in the last month now, and I think it’s helping. Ironically, we don’t talk much about mom’s death. Instead, we’re talking through other things that have been on my mind for awhile now. It’s been good. I’m going to keep going for awhile and see what happens.

It seems that this event — death,  grieving, the whole process — has cracked something open, and now I’m dealing with some personal things that I’ve not fully processed before.

But this is not a bad thing.

I have started working out again. I’m not going full bore, but I am committed to getting some exercise at least three times a week. I have found that exercise makes me feel good. Since feeling good has been in short supply lately, it’s high on the list of Very Good Things To Do.

I have become a lot more empathetic to others going through the same circumstances. Two of my co-workers have had parents die in the last month, and as soon as I heard I immediately felt deep concern. I sprung into action. I’ve spoken to both of my co-workers. I’ve given them the nudge: “No, really, you’re going to need someone to talk to, and I am here when you do.” If you have co-workers, friends, or family who are dealing with grief, even if they seem “fine,” give them some grace and space. Check on them. They need you.

One day I was watching some water forming a whirlpool, which took me back to memories of how us kids would make giant whirlpools in my parents’ above ground pool. And then, instant tears.

But this is not a bad thing, either.

In the aftermath of mom’s death, in the throes of this winter, I have found myself to be seeking healing. I am starting to see what a future of healing looks like. I’m not there yet, and it’s certainly going to take more time, but I see a path.

I’m going to walk it and see where it goes.

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