Monday, 16 September 2013

Outrunning the waves.

Grief takes many forms -  I get the impression that for many it ebbs and flows like the sea.  For a while you're walking along the shore line; you can breathe the soft salty air, the sand tickles between your bare toes and you can hear the lonely cries of gulls and the high-pitched peeping of oystercatchers.  You can bask in the sunshine, feel the breeze ruffle the hair around your face.

Sometimes your path veers off and you find yourself ankle deep in the cold waters of the ocean - you're aware of it but it's ok, it's manageable.  But then, out of the blue, a wave comes crashing over you.  It tugs at you, pulling you down, engulfing you and filling your entire existence with saltwater - blinding, suffocating, you don't think you can possibly survive it.....and then it's gone.  You can struggle to your feet and breathe again.  You might find the water is up to your neck, and you're only just keeping yourself going, or it may have receded down to your ankles and you're once more aware but managing. In the end though, no matter where the water recedes to, eventually you find your way back to the shore and can carry on your way.  The huge waves that knock you off your feet come further and further apart, the moments of wandering into the shallows happen less often, until eventually you never leave the sand.  But you know the ocean is always there, it will never go.

Most of the time everyone finds a way to cope with the waves, to stop themselves drowning,  My husband is eloquent in his grief in the moments when it catches him, he shares his pain with his friends by writing it as a Facebook status among other things - that loved and loathed modern means of communication.  I've been told that often men find it harder to communicate, to share how they feel - my husband isn't one of those men.  There is both beauty and pain in his expression, and once the wave recedes he carries on.

I try and find solace in the practical - I need to 'do', I need to find meaning, and if I can't find meaning then I'll do my best to make meaning.  In the 'doing' I hope to keep the waves at bay a little, in focusing on 'something' I hope that when the waves do come I'm kept afloat by an emotional lifejacket.  This time I'm choosing to run - literally, not metaphorically.  I've entered myself as a charity runner for Sands (the stillbirth charity) in the BUPA Great Birmingham Run - it's a half marathon and it's in five weeks and I'm raising as much money as I can.  I used to run regularly before I became pregnant with my eldest over 5 years ago, but it wasn't until she was about 18months old that I laced up my running shoes again.  Even then it was only the very occasional 2 or 3 mile plod and I hadn't been for a run for a couple of months before I became pregnant with Rowan.  So this is a challenge, a focus, meaning, something to 'do'.

My alternative is to remove myself from this reality into another, so I find solace in books, in worlds created by others - particularly books I've read before, where the outcome is always the same and the comfort is in a sense of control of events.  And that can be a dangerous place, because if I remove myself for too long it becomes more painful coming back. 

So I'm running instead of hiding. And I'm not drowning.

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