Avoiding the Undertow

ocean birds

Thursday night, after another tough day at work, I watched the season premier of Grey’s Anatomy that I had recorded a week ago.

I sobbed through most of it.

The episode was about how everyone was handling George’s recent death. Here is a synopsis of the closing dialogue (which was mostly people’s thoughts, not actual dialogue):
“When it hurts so much you can’t breathe, that’s how you survive.” thinks Izzy Stevens.
I don’t get what that means. Because that’s how I feel much of the time, and while I guess I am surviving, that’s not HOW I survive. It’s more like I survive DESPITE the hurt.


“Grief comes in its own time for everyone. The worst part of grief is that you can’t control it.”
Yes, this is true. Because if I could control it, I would be done with it. I’ve been told that when people divorce, it takes one year to recover for every four years you were married — that means there are two more years of this grief to get through. Such news is pretty much like having an anvil dropped on your already broken foot.
“The best we can do is let ourselves feel [grief] when it comes and let it go when you can. The very minute you think you are past it, it starts all over again. And always, every time, it takes your breath away. “
Yes, obviously, from my history of posts, this is absolutely true. I’m up. I’m down. I’m up. I’m down. And heaving sobs will definitely take your breath away.

The dream of H and I being together forever is lost. And every time I re-realize this, that’s where the grief kicks in. And every time, it’s just as painful as the first realization.

I think my husband believed this house and land and my horses were my dream, but they weren’t. Yes, they were a childhood dream, but they weren’t my dream when I met him. I actually wanted to buy a house in the suburbs where my son was going to school and just board my horse.

I knew how much work horses are. How they tie you down. I knew.

But he encouraged my dream and I thought it had become OUR dream and so I took a leap of faith. I believed in a possibility that I never would have believed in on my own.

And although I love the land we lived on, that I live alone on now, it also exhausted me and made me feel trapped by too much to do and never being able to get away. And in my exhaustion, well, it doesn’t matter now.

The point is that he was my dream. The dream was to love him and be loved by him for the rest of my life.

I also had the dream of making a living as a freelance writer, book author, and public speaker, but that’s another topic altogether.

If I was a character on Grey’s Anatomy, I would have said (or thought in some disembodied voice) that grief is kind of like body surfing. You see the wave coming. and if you just sit there, it will crash down on your head.

You should start to swim, to have your own momentum going so you can catch the top of the wave and ride it.

But if you realize you’ve timed it wrong, and the wave is going to overtake you, you should take a big breath and dive underneath it so you miss the brunt of its force.


Right now, I’m holding my breath, diving for cover, and letting the waves crash over me. It’s the best I can do at the moment.

But I’ll have enough momentum to get on top of that wave someday. And when I do, I’ll ride it all the way to the shore, where the wild foamy mass becomes nothing but a thin flow of water, tagging the sand and then receding.

ocean shore
Leaving a few of its treasures behind.

ocean shell

Similar Posts


  1. What a beautifully written post of your innermost feelings. So true that we can sit and be surrounded by our problems or we can reach beyond them and rise above them.

    Take care and know you are in my thoughts and prayers this weekend.

    God bless

  2. “I’ve been told that when people divorce, it takes one year to recover for every four years you were married — that means there are two more years of this grief to get through.”

    Why accept that as true? What I know is that everyone grieves differently and on their own time table. Why plan ahead for two more years of grief? Don’t set yourself up like that, with some prophecy that you can self-fulfill! Plan to recover!

  3. Lori – It doesn’t feel like it sometimes but I know if I look back through this blog I’ll see it. I just don’t want to be reminded right now of how low I went.

    Dog Geek – I don’t think anyone can put a time measurement on grief so I’m not putting a whole lot of stock on the two year thing. I do know it’s going to take a long time. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy life at the same time.

  4. Hi Mary, this was a very touching, heartfelt post..you are going to be OK. It will just take some time, but during that time you have to do good things for you..you are the number one most important person in your life right now. You ARE an important person, YOU will survive.

    I guess maybe I always have my head stuck in the clouds..but all things happen for a reason..something great will come out of all of this..you just have to be patient. 🙂

Comments are closed.