Every few months I try to get away for a night or two, completely on my own, for some solitude and grief processing time. The first time I went to a resort in the southwest near my in-laws, and it was just what I wanted except for the wedding reception occurring in the restaurant as I went to have dinner. (Being a lone observer at someone else's wedding when you're grieving the loss of your spouse was not my idea of a good time.) But I sat at the bar and had a nice meal, as I recall, and the view from the room was almost worth the emotional pain. (T was a connoisseur of views, and would have very much appreciated that spot.)
The second time, I tried a bed and breakfast near home owned by a friend. That was a good experience also, though having a relationship with the host did perhaps constrain me a little in feeling like I could completely let go.
This time, my grief counselor recommended a guest house at a Zen Buddhist farm and conference center about 50 miles away. I went up on Wednesday afternoon, and stayed two nights. With meals included, it was a mere $90 a night. And more than that, the atmosphere was much more conducive to introspection and spiritual reflection. I had several good conversations with fellow guest house visitors, went on a long walk to the beach, cried a lot, read and wrote a lot, and felt like I perhaps turned a bit of a corner in my grieving.
Reading one of the workbooks my grief counselor loaned me from a grief group she attended, I came upon a list of possible accomplishments. "Wow", I thought. "I have accomplished a lot. I've come a long way!"
- Acknowledged that I am in pain
- Faced my loss
- Understood why the world views me as it does
- Recognized that grief returns again and again
- Remembered my past losses
- Looked forward at the future
- Decided to let change happen in my life, to embrace it
- Understood the grieving process
And I am:
- Beginning to let go of T
- Saying good-bye in the midst of remembering
- Discovering new roles
- Integrating my past with my future
- Beginning to feel back in balance
- Beginning to move beyond loss
It feels really good to recognize my progress. Like climbing a long, slow ascent on my bike, I feel as if I've come to a little vista point and can look out and see how far up I'm come from the valley floor. I know that grieving is a spiral staircase (see point 4 on the first list above!), and I may be back in the hard work of the climb again sooner or later, but for now I'm enjoying the view.