Sam confided yesterday that the reason he pushed for us to move so quickly was well meaning. He thought it would be easier for me to deal with all the recent losses (selling the house, moving to the apt., etc.) if he threw the relocation in there along with them. His reasoning was that I'd be able to deal with all the losses at the same time and get "over" them more quickly.
Although I understand his intention, from my personal experience and what I have read about multiple losses, I'm not sure this is how it works. I think you have to deal with each loss on its own. You can't combine a bunch of losses and deal with them all together. Each one is its own entity.
I know from my situation as well, that there is a limit to how much grief I can handle. When it exceeds that limit I shut down and simply can't take on any more. When my Mom was dying two years ago and I was supposed to be packing up and selling my home and moving out of state, the only issue I could focus on was my Mom. I also realized I absolutely did not possess the strength to deal with my Mom's death and then handle the issues relating to the relocation. It was too much for me. I know Husband #2 did not understand this and it was part of what led to the divorce.
This current situation seems so much a repeat of what happened two years ago. I have just "lost" my home and moved into an apartment. The place isn't even unpacked. We never had a moment to settle in or process this life changing event. And then overnight I was forced to make decisions relating to another out-of-state relocation. I feel there wasn't adequate time for me to even gain some clarity or perspective before being thrust into this new whilwind.
One of my girlfriends commented the other day that people have to move all the time for jobs and family issues. She made it sound so matter-of-fact. But timing and circumstances do figure in there too. In the recent past I have had to face a very painful divorce, the sale and move from our home, finding and moving into a small apartment, fitting all the overflow of household goods and possessions into storage units and then taking a time intensive Nursing Assistant Program because of job necessity. Maybe for other people this wouldn't be too much, but it is for me. And it is also partly because I've had to face those issues on my own while trying to figure out what is best for my sons.
Sam described me as falling apart at the seams and being a wreck. I found the description very painful to hear. He said he wants to make life easier for me but it seems as though since the move I am more despondent and unhappy. That's grief for you. You are despondent. He thinks the boys have fed off my grief which can very well be true but the reality is that my depression has been so linked into their grief. Kind of like which came first - my grief over them having to move or theirs. But it doesn't really matter which came first anyway - it is all so interconnected. All of us are having difficulty with this. Sam thinks I should buck up and demonstrate strength for the boys - no more sleeping in during the day or crying. I don't relate this to bash him - it is how he feels. I've tried to explain that grief is very powerful and cannot be so easily batted away. I see his point about trying to be there more for the boys but that doesn't mean I can will my own grief away.
I have certainly learned through all of this that we can't push grief away and expect to heal. It is walking through it, crying, hurting and even vomiting from the grief that gets us out of the basement level of pain. So for those of us with more on our plates that also means having a longer go at the process. We'll be taking those steps out of the basement at a slower pace. Or maybe we'll stop a moment to sit on the steps awhile before making the effort to go back up.
I don't believe you can lump all your losses together to make the load easier or faster to get through. Multi-tasking may work in real life but not with grief. Each loss has to be grieved on its own. I think you have to concentrate on one to experience it fully. If you try to grieve everything all at once it just becomes muddled and unclear as to what you're exactly grieving. About grief overload - too much is too much. Being a wreck and appearing as though we're falling apart at the seams is an indication that it has all become too much. It would be nice to have the ability to take a break from life's current problems to have the time to devote to the past. It would be ideal if that could be the case. As for the times when life keeps piling up the challenges, I'm not sure what the solution is. What is the strategy for grieving at the same time you are living and facing difficult circumstances?
I suppose one answer would be to deal with what is most pressing at hand and having the strength and sense to put aside the other matters for a short while. Then returning to them when life has been restored to a more even level. What I have learned is that trying to handle too much grief all at once is futile. In doing that you run the risk of tuning out and avoidance, as well as feeling insane. Losses are very profound and each has such an individual meaning and significance for us. There is a certain level of honoring our losses that I have come to recognize as necessary. They can't be lumped together like a blob of clay. Each loss has to be formed and then put into the kiln and fired. For now, I will concentrate on this new move and put some of the other losses on the shelf to fire in the kiln later. They'll still be there, safe and sound. Let me tell you, they aren't going anywhere! But right now all my focus, strength and energy is needed to mold the pot determining where the boys will end up at school.