On the second day of school, the beginning part of August, my littlest, Abigail, fell and banged up her knees pretty bad. She came home from school with gigantic Band-Aids on both knees. You really couldn’t tell there was a wound underneath it at all. After removing the Band-Aid to clean it up again later that night, the wound was there, screaming red flesh aching for relief, and immediately I wanted to put the Band-Aid back on. A couple weeks passed of babying the wound, caring for it with Neosporin and the occasional Band-Aid when the scab would crack a little, and then Grace, I mean Abigail, fell again, reinjuring the almost healed wound. This happened two more times, for a total of 4 falls leading to the same open wound. Now, the second week of October, the wound is completely healed. It took two months and multiple Band-Aids to heal a superficial abrasion.
If it takes two months to heal a scraped knee, how long does it take to heal the wound that death brings? How many Band-Aids does that take? Band-Aids help the healing process for the scraped knee, and they also help the healing process of grief.
I have spent the past year and a half putting on Band-Aids of all kinds. Here are a few cases of Grief Band-Aids. Band-Aids can come in the package of trips or outings. Last year, about this time, I used a Band-Aid. I spent Rhea’s birthday in Las Vegas with good friends. It was my Band-Aid. It covered a wound that was not ready to be uncovered. Last Christmas, I used a Band-Aid and spent the holiday at Disney World with my girls. It was a Band-Aid for me, and for them. It was a holiday we were not ready for…I was not ready for it for sure. The holiday wound is a gruesome one, and one that will have to have Band-Aids for a very long time to come, I fear.
Grief Band-Aids can also come in the form of redecorating, remodeling, or moving. After the notification, there were entire rooms I could not step into. I spent the months after the funeral redoing each and every room of the house. New furniture, decorations, everything had to be new with no memories. For some people, they have to hold on to that stuff, but for me, I felt suffocated and like I couldn’t breathe in my own home. Then, I moved to a new house all together, and I couldn’t keep that furniture, because it was the “replacement furniture.” My head and heart knew that this was the furniture I bought because I couldn’t deal with the other furniture. It was a very viscous cycle, and an expensive Band-Aid. But, it’s the Band-Aid I needed at the time. It covered a wound that was healing.
Band-Aids are an invaluable tool, whether real or theoretical. But, the tricky thing about Band-Aids is that the wound isn’t visible, only the wounded knows what is beneath the Band-Aid. To everyone else, there is no wound. So all they see is the Band-Aid; the trips, car, fun events, happy life happenings, etc., but what they don’t see, is the gigantic wound underneath it all, healing.
I have noticed this a lot during my grief process. People don’t see the wound, they see the Band-Aid. Then, they have their own thoughts without knowing the big picture. I am healing underneath all of those Band-Aids. Honestly, though, half the time, I don’t even realize the things that I do or go through are grief driven until after the fact, or at the very least somewhere in the middle of it. Sometimes, I don’t realize I’ve put on a Band-Aid to cover a grief wound until well after the fact. I put on a Band-Aid, because there’s a wound that is open and healing and it’s not ready for the world just yet.