Grief Time Is Slow, Then Fast, and Maybe Irrelevant

Our sister died 2 years and 4 months ago. Sometimes this time that has passed seems incredibly slow with little progress. We still find ourselves grieving while on a run - our mind wanders to Colleen, we suddenly just really need to talk to her, the grief feels raw, and we are AGAIN crying while exercising. We’ve been known to cry on treadmills, we just didn’t think that crying while working out would still go on and on. We thought that phase was a thing of the past, but it still happens on occassion.

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Yet, it can also feel that a lifetime has passed since Colleen was sick. It is sometimes hard to remember the time before that in detail, perhaps because so much stress and sadness intervened. Guest blogger Kate wrote about how the second year is really hard when you let your guard down and reality sets in. Unfortunately, she is very correct.

Recently, we went on a family vacation and it was wonderful to be together, but we couldn’t escape thinking about how Colleen was supposed to be there. Our family dynamics are a bit different now. She would have had strong opinions about the planned activities, lots to say about the families in matching T-shirts and babies dressed as princesses. We wonder if she would have ridden on the roller coasters even though she used to hate them, just to be brave for the children in the family. She would have kept us laughing and positive in the heat and crowds, and known exactly what to do about the family photos. We will never get used to her absence, but we didn’t expect to go on vacation and feel her loss so palpably.

There are days and moments that continue to be a struggle, especially when we want Colleen involved in all of the events of our lives. Birthdays are particularly tricky, maybe because they mark the passage of time. Whether it’s her birthday, our birthdays, her daughter’s birthday, our childrens’ birthdays, we just wish Colleen was here for them and other events. It feels strange that our lives continue, we get older, and we watch our children growing up when Colleen can't do any of that. Time marches on without her.

Perhaps time is irrelevant when talking about grief. Time is moving both slow and fast. Colleen’s death doesn’t feel that long ago, but it feels like decades since we have been able to be with her. Grief sneaks up on us, stops us in our tracks, and takes us right back in time. We didn't predict that we'd still feel this raw at this point. Somehow we keep going, even if we just need to cry while running and hyperventilate for a little while, then move on. Colleen was the strong one, and it’s hard to keep up the strength when she isn’t here. But we are becoming tougher, some days.