I am tired of people dying.
Fourteen deaths of people I knew well in the space of a year has taken its toll on me.
I do not want to be around anyone right now.
I am tired of living in many different stages of grief simultaneously.
Of course I am certain that most of those I know who died were much less ready to die than I was to grieve their deaths.
The flood of frustration at how much grief has driven my emotions the last year spilled over upon receiving word recently that a wonderful former co-worker had reached the final hours of her life after a lengthy battle with cancer. She, like another co-worker who died this year, was much too young.
I have never been one to display grief. I am comfortable enough with life and death that I found being with people as they took their last breath a beautiful and holy experience. My year working for a hospice was a great experience as I learned that dying was not an unbearable experience; rather it was a very full time spent completing life. After being in the presence of people in their last hours, I do not fear death and I have long demonstrated a quick recovery from grief at any loss.
It took me a year to realize it, but since the death of a childhood friend’s father last year, I have been in grief though I fought hard to deny it. I have shaped myself as the caregiver not the caregiven. I finally mentioned it to a co-worker who also has a mental health background and her response was, “ You need a week away from people.” I laughed because that is exactly what I planned to do over spring break until I hurt my back. I did spend three days on my back recovering from the injury, but it was not the kind of isolation I needed to have to process the grief issues I was contemplating.
Since hiding from people for a week is not really an option, I am seeking some other ways to deal with it. The nature of my job, especially this time of year, requires more than a 40-hour week - and as it is nearing the end of the school year, the workload increases even more.
I have to accept the realization that I have entered a season of my life in which I will face the death of many of the “adults” I knew growing up. I cannot change that, but I can change to a more healthy response to the grief that is coming. Each of the fourteen people who died in the last year, influenced me and many others around me. There is not one thing I can do to work through the grief, but there is something I can do in respect of their influence. I just have to spend the time deciding what to do for each.