The Timeline

There is an article in today’s The Wall Street Journal (subscription required, I think) that discusses the “identity crisis process” after loss. The article focuses on divorce or a job loss. The article is clear that the death of a loved one is a more complicated and lengthy process. But there are some things that are similar, at least as I read them.

The article says there are two overlapping processes—the recovery from grief, and the more time-consuming process of rebuilding the structure of your life.

The routine of calling my mom every night after her Portuguese soap opera still feels like a gap in my day. Even if our conversations tended toward repetition, they provided a sort of metronome. Our daily contact was part of a rhythm to my life.

Frankly, I am not interested in creating some kind of surrogate activity to fill those ten to 15 minutes every day. I’ve considered taking the time to meditate, or pray. But I generally can’t muster the energy for it. So typically I acknowledge the moment, and move on.

In another article, which seems relevant through the lens of grief, a writer at The New York Times addresses The Ticktock of the Death Clock. It discusses the background clock that ticks for all of us, and discusses some of the major life changes that he made when he felt he had a concrete (albeit random) deadline.

Those two articles, as well as where my mind has been lately, give me pause to think about what the next phase of my life will look like. I have always been purposeful in how I set up my life—my career choices, my choice of friends, where I put my energy and how I prioritize my time.

The last two years were a slog of surviving one crisis after another. I just had to keep my head down, focus on what needed to get done, and keep juggling multiple responsibilities and obligations.

Now I have some time to think about how I would like my life to be. The Wall Street Journal article, and my grief counselor, recommend against any major changes or decisions while in the throws of grief. But the next year or two will be about listening to myself, to the inner voice, to be honest about what I want and what makes me happy, gives my life meaning.

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