I woke up Monday morning, as sad as could be. My first thought, as it has been every day since April 30, was of Ben. I immediately felt such miserable, intense grief and feelings of regret, as I questioned how much longer I could keep going on the way I am going. I don’t know why that second of awakening affected me so deeply for nearly four full days. It set the tone. But I functioned. I went to work. I took Nick out for our weekly lunch on Wednesday. I cooked and did paperwork at home. I talked with my family. I laughed. But I wasn’t me. I hid myself from everyone. Though I was out in the world, functioning like I’m supposed to do, I was a recluse. Wrapped up in my own head. As each minute went by during those four days, I sank deeper and deeper into myself, into my grief, lost in such blackness that really no one could reach me if they had tried. But no one knew that. So, driving home from work yesterday, the fourth day of such utter dark despair, I found myself sitting at the stop light by our house sobbing. Uncontrollable sobbing. Talking to Ben, telling him how much I missed him. I pulled in the driveway and Nick was there getting in his car to go pick up Papa Freddie. He walked up to my car as I was trying to pull myself together, because you know, I can’t let him see me in pieces. My crying makes people sad, and I don’t want anyone to be sad seeing me sad. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. This woman’s got it all together. She’s so strong. I’ve got my grief packaged away, compartmentalized in this tiny (really it’s a massive) box, tucked away where no one can see it, because that’s the way we’re trained. It’s amazing how quickly I picked up that there are very few people who I can be myself with. We have all been programmed toward silence. Keep it in, appear strong. But picture yourself, with such overwhelming grief, living 1440 minutes each day, the majority of them awake, with your grief pacing like a rabid creature in a cage. Back and forth it paces. Never resting. Always there. Fear and isolation build up when you see that creature staring you in the face all day long. Why do I put so much pressure on myself to be the perfect griever? When all it does is tear me to pieces? With no outlet, when I can’t let it out, I can do nothing but feel that creature inside me, waiting, pacing, ready to pounce, chew me up, to take what it can of me. But I leave it caged up, because I think it’s not fair to others to expose them to such a creature. What is wrong with me? Why do I feel responsible for what others feel? Because that’s who I am. I love deeply and I care deeply, so I DO NOT WANT OTHERS TO FEEL PAIN. But at what price? So, I wrote a little bit last night. I released some of my pain. That really helps, as incoherent as the words may be. I had been uncontrollably sobbing inside every waking minute for four days, much more than usual, until I started to write a little last night, all the while thinking that no one wanted to see me, hear me, listen to me and my grief because they are “uncomfortable dealing with my pain” (so I’ve been told). So it remains caged, “stuffed” and ready to be sprung when I see my therapist tomorrow for those 60 luxurious minutes of, “It’s OK, you can talk to me about anything and I won’t cut you off or tone you down or make you feel like you can’t be you because I am uncomfortable seeing your pain!” So, I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of those 60 minutes, knowing it will then be another 20,160 minutes until I can be the real me again, in 2 weeks.