Baby Steps

Author: Dayna Wood

I always try to tell myself that managing grief is all about baby steps. It took me a long time to actually eat a full meal. I spent hours hiding in the bathtub or in closets just because I didn’t want others to see me cry. Yet, I somehow managed to overcome these obstacles. Day by day I learn to cope a little more.

Dayna Wood

However, it the smallest things that still get to me and have the power to send my mood spiraling downward. For example, it always blows me away how much a single piece of paper or one Internet window on my computer can open up a flood of emotions. After the accident I sat and reread Ko’s obituary over and over… the point that I often exhausted myself. It was as if I didn’t want to believe the truth and this piece of paper somehow made it all real. And while I should have eventually had his obituary memorized, I always gazed at the words as if it was the first time I was seeing them. Inevitably, that sinking feeling emerged in my stomach and the tears followed.

These days I don’t read his obituary very often. In fact, I put all the extra programs from the memorial service in a box, and I can’t even remember the last time that I looked at them.

However, there are other papers, Internet searches etc. that still get to me. Just today I was ordering flowers to be delivered to Arlington for Ko’s birthday next week, and as I started at the words “Arlington National Cemetery, Section 59, Grave 4516,” I couldn’t help but feel as if someone had just punched me in the gut. Sometimes I have to do a reality check and ask myself “Wait a minute. How did I get here? Did all of this really happen?”. In a way, I feel like my mind erases for an instant, and I completely forget whose life I’m living.

One of the best ways I’ve found to cope is just to give into the tears. I’ve come to accept that there is absolutely no shame in crying. Once I have a good cry, I generally feel a lot better. It seems to me that there is just no use in fighting the tears. In fact, I always try to remember this quote: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”- A.A. Milne. At the end, of the day I do feel very lucky and blessed. I’m lucky because an amazing man came into my life and changed it for the better. I’m lucky in that through some of my worst moments, I found support from TAPS. Some days it’s just a matter of reminding myself of these blessings and repeating “baby steps, Dayna” over and over until it all sinks in.