Grief – Desire for Control of Surroundings


Since first watching the BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice I have been an anglophile. My Aunt Linda has the same interests and has always passed me books and movies that enhanced this obsession. Shout out to Charles Dicken’s #1 fan Linda! Linda is a curator. She has this amazing talent for bringing people new things to experience. She planned a trip for herself, my Aunt Bethie, my Mom and I to go on a bus trip around England, Scotland and Ireland. The trip was truly once in a lifetime. I’ve always loved books because they let me travel the world in my mind and here I was able to go THREE countries.

The trip began about 9 months after we lost Adam. If you have never travelled oversees or on a sightseeing vacation there are some things you should know. You’re not always going to be the most patient person. There’s this thing called jet lag that will steal your joy. Because we were doing a bus tour, we were frequently driving with 30 other people.

We were travelling with Rose.

Did you read that with a voice dripping in loathing? Well you should have. Rose was an elderly woman who just wanted to see some of the world in her retirement. Poor Rose was Canadian and probably because of the universal health care system, was not able to arrange to have her knee replacement BEFORE the trip. I don’t know if you know this, but there are steps leading onto a bus. There are steps leading up to castles. There are steps leading into restaurants—lots of steps—steps that will cause her to have a panic attack in front of them and leave the ENTIRE REST OF THE BUS waiting out in the street when all we want after a long day of travelling is just to sit down and eat. Boy, I did not give her any grace. All this friggin perspective you’re getting of her point of view and how hard it was for her—there was none of that in my brain or in my heart. I wanted to throw her out the window. I kept thinking, “Why should she be ok with ruining the trip for the rest of us. It’s just complaining all day every day for her.”

Rose was just doing what everyone on the planet tends to do each day. We are each struggling with our own battle and we’re not inclined to think of how it’s affecting others. It’s natural.

What wasn’t natural was my expectation that people SHOULD be more aware. You see, I have this intense desire for fairness. If Rose can vomit her struggle onto my day, why don’t I get preferential treatment for mine? If they knew what I was dealing with they might leave me in peace. Can’t we skip the part where I have to explain what I’m dealing with and jump to the part where everyone is just super nice and understanding with me?!

This was THE biggest theme of my grief. My logic was this: The world is cruel and dangerous. People should be kind and if they can’t be kind they should allow me peace.

Newsflash! People aren’t living their lives to make YOU feel a certain way. If you are waiting for them to treat you the way you deserve—if this is the standard of a good life to you, you will be severely disappointed. Even people who love the crap out of you are not going to be able to hold that standard for very long. Please, take it from me, if this is your expectation you will be very angry when it is slashed every damn day.

If I could mentor myself, I would tell that Sarah she needs some coping mechanisms. A great coping mechanism for this situation would have been gratitude.

On the trip I tried using my journal to vent my frustrations, but venting didn’t release them. I was still stuck in a cycle of “It’s not fair I have to deal with this.” When your mind is spinning on a loop like that, you need to reverse the direction completely. If I had sat and picked three things I was grateful for I might have been ready to release the frustrations. Maybe I could have focused back on what was important, which was the quality time with my family in these amazing places. Instead I internalized my frustrations and it made me even less patient; as a result I fear I was just another Rose.

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