Sometimes, it just feels over-done. I sense my grief building up, so I permit myself to roll around in the sadness just to get with over with it. It takes different forms, but mostly it is listening to sad, familiar music and reading old blog posts about Alex.
During this process, there are typically tears, a sense of warm release, and a deep gratitude for my faith and my fabulous family. That is a formula that has helped to get me through the past two years, that didn’t work today. I read through the blog posts and listened to the music. It didn’t get me there. While I could recall the familiar pain and sadness, it didn’t quite seem like it was me. It wasn’t my experience anymore.
All those ramblings of grief just didn’t seem relevant anymore. The grief I feel today isn’t the same grief I felt before. I had deep grief, obsessive grief, guilt grief, confusing grief… That’s not the grief I have today. Not the grief I struggle with now. I have nostalgia grief. Nostalgia for the happy times with Alex, or the predictable nature of the sadness after he died.
There is confusion in life that I didn’t have back then. It seemed like if I could make it through the day without collapsing, life would go on. Now there is a legacy of Alex that seems to have faded into the distance and I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
We have turned a new corner in our family and when grief strikes, it is just different. Our family goes on and Alex isn’t a relevant detail we deal with on a regular basis. Ben and I don’t talk about him. People don’t ask about him. Benjamin doesn’t ask about him. Molly will never know him. At some time, she will be old enough to wonder who baby Alex is, and why we remember him at prayer time. For now, Alex has become a detail that has faded into the background.
I’m not sure if I am proud that we are “better” and “moving on” with our lives. I’m not sure if I feel guilty that we don’t preserve his memory in our lives in more concrete terms. I just know that the grief from before isn’t relevant in the same way. What’s hard is the same things that used to make me feel better don’t work.
In the meantime, we enjoy the life we have. We hug our kids, we juggle busy schedules and we negotiate bedtimes. We take family pictures and do family outings. As we continue, the loss of Alex changes shape. As we grow in our lives together, we adapt to our loss.
Alex’s role in our family has changed. We keep the memories. Maybe the grief is what’s irrelevant.