My mother died at 1am on Easter Monday 2004.
That is the day that I think of as the day of her death, not the date on her death certificate.
Mum died at 1am on 12th April 2004, she just made it to my daughter’s first wedding anniversary. But because of Mum’s death, I am fuzzy on the date and I always have to double think it (if that’s such a word). Strangely on the 12th April each year I am not melancholy and it can pass by without me thinking of Mum.
Recently I was reading a brilliant book called Crones Don’t Whine by Jean Shinoda Bolen. When I read the words ‘the body remembers emotion-laden dates when the mind has forgotten’, a light went on and I felt an internal sigh that what I had experienced was ‘normal’.
That triggered a memory of what used to happen after my father died. I would start feeling ‘funny’, sad, achy, even angry and I would pull myself up and try to work out why. Slowly, very slowly, I would realise it was the end of August. These feelings would start on or just before Dad’s accident, [he was travelling in the UK with Mum, when he was hit by a drunk driver and was in a coma for 10 days before he died] until the anniversary of the day of his death.
Now this was a very long time ago, 40 years at the end of this year. Way, way before I had studied any psychology or self-development. I was far too busy with four children and just keeping my head above water to focus on what was going on in my head. Yet, year after year when the end of August rolled around this inner turmoil made me uncomfortable enough to notice it.
No one in my circle had experienced death so I had nobody to talk to about my strange and bizarre reaction. It has taken until now when I read Jean Shinoda Bolen’s book to really understand what it was I had experienced.
My feelings were stuffed so far down after Dad died it took them 30 years to start bubbling to the surface. That is called frozen grief. There is no ‘one size fits all’ with grief, it is not a linear process, we are all different and so is the way we react to grief.
So if you are grieving just know that whatever it is you are going through, whatever you are feeling is normal, but it may not be comfortable. But if the feelings are overwhelming please find someone to talk to, preferably a professional.
If you would like to work with me I do sessions in person and also via Skype.
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To put it into context here is the paragraph from Jean Shinoda Bolen, a psychiatrist:
“Our bodies also often express feelings for us and if we do not allow emotions to surface as our feelings, they can come out as our pain or a physical symptom. Unshed tears of grief, an anniversary reaction – the body remembers emotion-laden dates when the mind has forgotten.”