When faced with the death of a loved one and the necessary distraction of planning the funeral and taking care of things, one tends to shove aside the looming grief in order to function. Later...I'll let the weight of my sadness hit me later. But right now I have to get things done.
I had this mindset in the days after Dad's death. "After" was my subconscious mental word. After the service, then it will hit me. After all this planning, then I'll have to face the real grief. After... then I'll have the time to deal with it. After.
When the memorial service was over and all Dad's memorabilia and photos were packed up, we went to Paul's home for lunch together. Then it was back to Dave's where I was staying. I found that I didn't want to change out of my dress. Let me tell you, I never wear dresses. I'm not all that comfortable in them and much prefer jeans or shorts.
But, there I was in this little black dress, and I didn't want to get out of it. I was keenly aware of what was going on inside of me. I didn't want to change into my shorts yet - my everyday, ordinary, back-to-normal shorts.
I wasn't ready to "go back to normal" and it was strongly symbolized by my clothes. I didn't want the "all-about-Dad" to end. My black dress was the symbol of that mark in time. The "all-about-Dad" emphasis kept me close to him, and I didn't want to let go. I found it very interesting and decided to just roll with it until I was ready. So I stayed in my dress for awhile longer.
I also recognized that that little black dress symbolized the marking of a specific point in time when the "after" would begin. I wasn't ready for After yet. I was a little afraid of After, knowing I had shoved a big weight of grief onto it. I wasn't ready to welcome that weight by officially beginning my After.
Eventually, I was ready. Things seemed comfortable and the funeral seemed past enough that I went into my room to read my book for awhile before dinner. I changed into my shorts and tee shirt and all was fine. I was ready. I was really glad I was aware of what was going on inside of me. And glad I didn't push myself or do what seemed unnatural at the moment. I'm glad I stayed in my black dress a little while longer, until it came naturally to change.
And the After? Well, it didn't fall on me like a ton of bricks. In fact, I sort of realized that After had a new date for me. I knew I wouldn't really freely grieve until I went home, where I could be alone in the quiet woods. Now that I am home, I have cried freely as it has come. My real grieving has begun. It feels like deja vu, a repeat of last summer. I never guessed I would be spending another quiet summer in the woods in the company of fresh grief, but here I am.