Running to stand still.

I’ve had some emails asking more about the active grief process I mentioned when talking about my flower gardening as a way to cope with losing my daughter. When I first wrote about it, I didn’t want to get too into it. I didn’t want to get to personal or depressing…I like my blog to be all sunshine and smiles, you know? Not boring or melancholy.

However, as much as my mind is ready to move forward and be done with all this grief stuff, my body isn’t. It’s like it’s being hardwired on a cellular level to hold on and remember. Oftentimes, it’s my body that shows the first and last signs of grief, even before my mind can register it. The only thing I can compare it to is when Hubby gets aches and pains in his bones before a storm rolls through. That’s how my body feels, and then I have to sit and think, “What’s going on here?”

So, since I’m still feeling mentally achey, I’ll write about how I first discovered active grief.

Part of my recovery from getting HELLP Syndrome was a couple weeks of bedrest. It was horrible…just laying there, thinking about the trauma and the loss of Baby Rose. As soon as my blood pressure was under control, I needed to DO something. I had so many feelings and thoughts inside and no idea what to do to get them to stop haunting me. At first, I would get reprieve in my sleep, but then I stopped sleeping because of the endless loop of loss and grief that kept playing in my mind.

I’ve never been one to enjoy exercising, but I felt like one of those wind up toys that’d been all wound up. I needed to move the built up energy out. Combine that with a fundamental anger at myself for failing to carry Baby Rose through a successful pregnancy and I could think of only one thing that I wanted to do. Something that my body would hate…Running.

I’d set out at a fast walk, and drive myself on. The anger and grief came out in a marked cadence while I slammed my feet down on the treadmill. I’d push myself faster and faster, with tears eventually making their way down my face. Bubbering and breathing hard, I ran to exhaustion. I can’t tell you how many people stopped by my machine concerned about my appearance. I’d just wave them on. ‘Nothing to see here. Just a freak on a machine, having a mental breakdown. Move along…’

Those early days I ran with only two songs on my playlist. I couldn’t bear to listen to songs, or watch TV, or read books. It all seemed so frivolous compared to the life and death struggle I’d just been through. But there were two songs that pulled me through every day, both by U2. I’d start out with ‘Stuck In a Moment’, and listen to the words sing to me:

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

and then continue:

And if the night runs over
And if the day won’t last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass

It’s just a moment
This time will pass

and then I’d be crying and hyperventilating, because I didn’t believe it…but I wanted to.

The loop would then go right into ‘Beautiful Day’, and sing:

The heart is a bloom
Shoots up through the stony ground
There’s no room
No space to rent in this town

You’re out of luck
And the reason that you had to care
The traffic is stuck
And you’re not moving anywhere

*sob*sob*sob*sob*

It’s a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away…

…And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out…

I didn’t believe it, but I wanted to. I would repeat those songs over and over until I couldn’t run anymore.

I can’t say running made the grief easier, but it was a great outlet for pent up emotions, and I would exhaust myself to the point where I could sleep again. This was the origin for my active grief. I couldn’t just sit with it, I had to do something with it.

A couple years later, I added “Float On” by Modest Mouse to my mix of two songs. There’s just something calming about 2 minutes of someone singing:

And we’ll all float on ok
And we’ll all float on ok
And we’ll all float on ok
And we’ll all float on
Alright!
Already, we’ll all float on
Now don’t worry, we’ll all float on
Alright!
Already, we’ll all float on
Alright!
don’t worry we’ll all float on…

And we’ll all float on,
Alright!
Already, we’ll all float on
Alright!
Don’t worry, even if things end up a bit to heavy
we’ll all float on, alright!
Already we’ll all float on
Alright already we’ll all float on
Ok don’t worry we’ll all float on

Even if things get heavy we’ll all float on
Alright already we’ll all float on
Don’t you worry we’ll all float on
All float on…

6 years later, my playlist is a little more extensive and fun. Eventually I got to a place without the anger and self hatred, and found some great club remixes of awesome 80’s songs to add to it. If that doesn’t say ‘healing’, nothing does.

running music

But I still warm up and cool down to my initial 3 songs. Now, I believe them.

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4 Responses

  1. ((((((hugs)))))) I so get your description of the endless loop of grief that prohibits sleep and makes even ths simplest of pleasures — like music — unbearable.

    I now also understand a new dimension to your U2 obsession ; )

    Love, Lisa

    ps at the end of our street a neighbor of ours planted his entire fenceline with these gorgeous disease-resistant rose bushes — fragrant fuschia flowers on bushes taller than I am and they seem to be in constant bloom. We walk (scooter, bike, jog, stroll) by this house 4- 6 times a week and now I think of you (and angel Rose) every time.

  2. Grief is so personal, its hard to find the right words to respond sometimes. But the running thing? I’ve done that.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  4. Thank you.

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