Some visitors are uninvited but the worst are those that leave briefly only to return again and again, always it seems when least expected. You can’t dissuade this particular uninvited visitor to stay away, though all of us try hard to do so. Personally, I have tried to be invisible hoping the visitor would not see me and would just leave. Admittedly, I have even tried to fake how I am feeling, so the visitor would not stop by. I have even gone away from home on trips just to try and avoid this visitor!
But time and time again, the uninvited visitor finds its way to me. This visitor intrudes when I have a bit of happiness. And, the visitor comes often when I least expect this visitor. You have this uninvited visitor as well. This unwelcomed, uninvited, intrusive visitor is grief.
When grief first came into my life, it crowded everything else out. When grief kept showing up again and again, I felt like I was trapped in the middle seat of an airplane on a journey I did not buy a ticket for. I felt smothered between row mates who had little if any consideration for me, leaving me feeling as if they no longer knew I even existed. As they leaned comfortably to the side or stretched into the aisle, I was left barely able to breathe.
As time waned on, I learned how to be a better traveler. I became better at integrating this uninvited visitor into my life. Some days, I almost forgot the visitor was still here. Those days came more often, now seven years after the death of my son. Sometimes though, it is as if grief deceptively lured me into a zone of letting down my guard.
It seemed when my guard is down, I suddenly found myself boarding the plane again with only a middle seat available for me to take. I have learned to use my elbows a bit on this journey. I use my elbows to combat the uninvited visitor rather than to hide, to run, or to fake how I feel.
This journey has a lot of turbulence. When I heard the news of the shooting in Florida, I grimaced knowing 17 families would be boarding the plane to begin a journey they would not want to be on. The Compassionate Friends will be there for them now and forever in the future. Together we will help all families with the uninvited visitor on this horrific grief journey.
Tony’s mom, Debbie
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