I’ve been feeling sort of…disconnected from my life for the last couple weeks. It’s like life doesn’t always feel real. It’s not a scary feeling. It’s not depression. It’s just a quiet disconnection. In examining it, I’ve decided that it’s a lack of grief that I’m experiencing, and that’s a little disconcerting. After the pain of losing my dad in February – and really, for the 7 years following his diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia – life has felt a little too real. I’ve become accustomed to grieving. And I think what I’ve been feeling lately is a lack of that pain. This is not to say that I don’t think about my dad or that I don’t miss him. But I’ve finally reached a phase where the grieving is less acute on a daily basis. I can think about him without losing my breathe and choking on tears. I even watched the video of his memorial service and only teared up a little, and those were mostly happy tears at the wonderful things people said about him.
I’ve dealt with death enough to know that there are still days ahead of me during which grieving will surprise me. It’ll blindside me and send me reeling back to those dark days. But I also know that the time between the blindsidings will stretch out longer and longer. And I’ve learned not to feel guilty about it. It’s okay to disconnect from that pain. The person we miss wouldn’t want it any other way.
Just before my mom and I went on our trip down the Danube, we had a scare. She’s a breast cancer survivor, and she’d been on Tamoxifen several years ago as treatment, a side effect of which can be uterine cancer. She had some symptoms consistent with that, so there was real concern.When we got back, she had more testing and it was determined that it wasn’t cancer. Following the non-diagnosis, my numbness increased, because I think I had prepared myself so thoroughly for bad news, and I had a hard time trusting that she was really okay. It just seemed better luck than we’ve had the last few years. But it’s been a couple weeks, and I think I’m just now starting to exhale and trust that the universe isn’t throwing us yet another curve ball (at least, not right now). Again, I’m distancing myself from the pain I was bracing for.
So now I’m moving forward with a slightly more secure feeling, a more connected feeling. I’m getting accustomed to the new normal, which, finally, isn’t just another decline in my dad that I have to adjust to. I’m adjusting, instead, to life without the daily ache and agony of grief. I’m learning to let go. I’m learning to disconnect from unnecessary pain without feeling guilty. I’m moving on and feeling grateful that I survived, I am surviving, I will survive.