The Deep Anxiety of Grief: It’s Complicated

October 12, 2020

I can’t stop. I’m in a groove. I’m getting things done. 

I’m cleaning. 

I’m purging. 

I’m organizing. 

I’m in constant motion. 

I can’t stop.

Stopping would mean acknowledging the grief. Acknowledging the date, a notable one. A number on the calendar signifying a special day, one that should include my mother. But it can’t and doesn’t because she’s gone. I know this reality, so I stay in motion. I stay busy. 

This day, this week, and this month are triggers for my grief and emotional stability. Because of this, I stay in movement. I keep going. Bouncing from cabinet, to pantry, to closet, to anything I can find that needs additional structure and care. Never truly realizing the level of my anxiousness and the level to which my grief has manifested it. I simply keep moving, unaware of the consequences of trying to outpace my emotions.  

It feels good to be busy. The more I purge, the prettier I organize, the better focused and distanced my brain becomes. I imagine it’s what addiction feels like. An urge and desire that when pursued gives a release of endorphins and immense feeling of liberation. The current addiction is motion and productivity. For if I have it, I’m not overcome by grief’s existence and power. 

I’m deep in the anxiety of grief. I’m drowning in the obsessive tendencies that it’s creating. I’m too busy in the euphoria of the compulsive movements to notice I’ve been completely taken over by grief, denial, and distraction. If I stay busy the longing and ache can’t find me. 

Except it will. Eventually, my energy level will diminish. My places and spaces in need of attention will fade. But the emotion and grief will remain. No matter how many times I’ve entered this cycle, I always seem to forget that it constantly leads to the same conclusion. 

The house is cleaner, but my emotion is messy and clouded by tired hands and an exhausted mind. I know the cycle will end the same as it always has, yet I begin as if I forget the outcome. 

I become so wrapped in the intoxication of obsessive movement and the manifestation of grief’s anxiety that I’m powerless to the motion and result. Just as the high of productivity starts to slow, with the warm and gentle embrace of my husband, I’m pulled back to reality and become aware of the storm I’ve been circling. 

I stop. I pause. I sit down.

Everything I’ve been holding and resisting spills out of me like the emptying of the heaviest and darkest raincloud. No longer able to hold the precipitation or the weight. The tears flow and the release feels powerful but necessary. 

Grief is complicated. 

It can be productivity.

It can be stagnancy.

It can be powerful.

It can be meaningful.

It can be manipulative.

It can be destructive.

It can be anxiety and nervousness and obsessive behavior.

It can be hopeful and inspiring and built with love. 

Today, it was all of the above. It was cleaning spaces while holding messy thoughts. It was organizing while filled with a jumbled soul. It was constant movement while holding a paralyzed heart. 

It’s complicated, and it always will be. It’s grief. 

xox, Chels

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A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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