I feel like I've just been punched in the gut, like I'm having to gulp in breath, tears stinging my eyes.
It's my own fault, you'd think I'd know better, Facebook reminding me of a memory from 9 years ago. I didn't have to look, but I felt almost compelled to. I knew it would be painful but I took a deep breath and stepped over the void. You might think it's like pulling off a plaster, but its not, unless of course your leg comes off with the plaster... or your heart.
And now I can't un-see the photo's, the memory of a happy little family when the kids were young enough to think trawling round a museum was fun without the need to drag their feet and demand a Wi-Fi password.
I wish I hadn't looked, and then I feel guilty for wishing the memories away, almost like it's wishing Lauren away.,, and round and round we go.
I'm rubbernecking my own grief. Unable to look away even when I know all I will see is pain and destruction.
What is it about human nature that makes us relish in our ruin? It's the same in the press or on social media, nothing gets attention as much as family catastrophe and bad news... which celeb has spiralled into drug addiction, been caught cheating, put on weight. How many disater movies about the end of the world become box office gold. Why are we drawn to the carnage, is there something intrinsically wrong with us all?
I try to avoid the things that I know will be painful. I was given advice to right at the very start of this journey, I know it's good advice but I can't help myself, can't resist that peek.
Rubbernecking is often linked to car crashes, and the people who can't help but stare at the aftermath. Interestingly, or maybe not that interesting depending on your perspective, the term rubbernecking was first recorded in the 1800's, way before the birth of automobiles, but clearly not before the birth of the nosy passers-by!
So the desire to plunge ourselves in grief and pain, be it are own or others, appears to be part of human nature, that morbid curiosity within us all. Psychologists would probably think it has something to do with experiencing the situation whilst staying distant from the emotion, feeding the black dog on scraps so that it doesn't take over and attack us.
I suppose the same can be said of personal grief. I've learned the things to avoid, or more importantly to avoid at certain times when I'm feeling vulnerable, I'm slowly learning to say no to the things that I think will be too hard, it's not immersion therapy, diving into the pain head on will not make me come out the other side somehow fixed, I am eternally fractured by Laurens death, so care is needed. However, avoidance and distraction cause stress and burnout if used all the time, it is possible to get stuck if you avoid the painful part of grief.
The reality is that grief is needs to be managed, not avoided but also not completely saturated in. There is no "working through" the pain, just living with. Stroebe & Schut constructed the Dual Process Model which is aims to throw light on how we deal with grief, a mixture of Loss & Restoration. They describe a a zigzag between the two places as the ideal.
So I guess I've answered my own question, my rubbernecking is a zag to the grief, my writing about it my own unique zig!