alt=Person closes eyes, managing grief after loss as leaves blow around her.

Emotional Hurricanes: Staying Centered

Last updated: December 2021

I've had an emotional few days. That's an understatement. I've had some "sitting on the bathroom floor crying" kinds of days.

The holidays are hard. There are always a million things to do. There are presents to buy, meals to prep for, places to be, and people to see. Regular, everyday stress feels compounded with these extras. Add missing those who have passed and a few birthdays and death date anniversaries to the calendar, and you have yourself the perfect storm.

Preparing for the (emotional) hurricane

When storms come, I generally keep it together. I function. I push through. I batten down the hatches. I appear to all bystanders to be very even-keeled.

Then, when I'm alone or talking to someone unlucky enough to wind up inside the floodgates - I break.

I don't just break. I shatter Humpty Dumpty-style. Little things feel big, and big things feel unsurmountable. My emotions run high, and my eyes well up over - well - everything. A curt word or a proud pat on the back can elicit the same response.

Weathering the storm

In the midst of this emotional rawness, my grandfather has been on my mind.

He doted on my grandmother who had dementia for years. Granddaddy's birthday just passed a couple of days ago. He's been gone for well over a decade, but I still miss him.

I miss the twinkle in his eyes when he laughed, and I miss his gentle spirit. I miss his evenness and stability. I'm sure he had his moments, but he always seemed content all of the years I was lucky enough to know him.

I didn't ever really see him mad or rattled. He was immensely patient with Grandmommie, who wasn't always so easy to be patient with. Talk about a storm. She was a storm, but he adored her anyway, thunder and all.

Remaining steady through the storm

I only saw him really upset one time that I remember, and he still held her in those last moments as we counted her breaths that grew farther and farther apart. He held on. He braved the wind. He was steady until she was gone.

An old black and white photograph of a married couple smiling for the camera.

I still wonder how he did it. I don't know how he always seemed ok. Maybe he had tear stains on his pin-striped pajama shirt that stayed neatly folded under his pillow. Maybe he had pep talks with himself in the bathroom mirror before he slapped on his Old Spice.

Maybe he was just stronger than I am. Maybe I only ever saw what he allowed me to see. I guess I will never really know, but I still admire his dedication and the strength that I perceived.

Managing grief after loss from Alzheimer's

He told me once, "If it's not one thing, it's the same thing." It probably really is that simple. One hurdle is generally not a lot different than the next.

A black and white photo, worn and damaged with age but still striking, showing a young adult man in a stylish outfit and fedora.

Brandi Carlile has a song called "The Eye." The lyrics read, you can dance in a hurricane, but only if you're standing in the eye. I feel like that's what Granddaddy did all those years ago. He stayed calm no matter what was swirling around him.

Finding the eye of my storm

So, I guess that's my answer. If I quit getting caught up in the edges and find the center - I'll be good. Back to finding peace in the middle of the chaos. It can't rain forever, and Hurricane Amy has overstayed her welcome.

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