Grief versions 1.0 and 2.0
If you are in recent loss, you need to know that grief changes. It is much like a computer app installation, Grief 1.0 installs instantly at the heartbreaking news. As you process it, Grief 1.0 is updated and slowly stops being the lightening bolt that hits you first thing in the morning. You begin to remember where you put your keys and if you ate breakfast. Grief 1.0 slowly changes to a softer version, Grief 2.0 - where you can enjoy browsing the Christmas market once again.
For me, Grief 1.0 installed instantly at the news my son had been killed in a car accident. But Grief 2.0 was installed without me realizing it at least a year after, maybe even three years later. I know it sounds weird to say it just snuck up on me but that’s the way it works. Life is much kinder now. How about you?
Grief 1.0 installed automatically. In early grief, it initiates the natural numbness and daze to protect you from the full reality of the death. Every day, when you wake up and you hope it was all a bad dream, it relentlessly loads up again. Grief 1.0 often includes a wide variety of emotions besides sadness: anger, shock, fear, loneliness, rejection and even relief that they're not suffering.
It often runs a monstrous data backup reviewing all the moments, conversations, joys and pains of life together. Your entire system slows down and you forget what you were doing in the foreground like where you put the keys. If you try to do too much, it can easily overload, and “blue screen”. When that happened to me I had to operate in “safe mode” for a while, just doing the basics in a basic way.
Some people suggested I should just quarantine this entire process. Clearly they lacked expertise. The process is not a virus but rather a loving de-frag where all the precious memories of your loved one are integrated for effective and clean access. When the system has processed an adequate amount, it speeds up again, and can allow for a fresh commitment and new possibilities.
When Grief 1.0 had been running for some time, I worried that I had a glitch when I realized that I had not thought about my son for a whole day. I worried that I was forgetting his memory but I realized it was a normal update. Slowly, other updates were added and extra Ram was installed as I continued the processing. That meant other apps and activities could be reintroduced, but I was very selective, not wanting to overload my resources. Other updates also made it run more smoothly and they were slowly transitioning me to Grief 2.0.
When exactly Grief 2.0 was released in my life, I can’t tell you. I believe it installed when the recommended resources became available when internal capacities had stretched and life processing power had excelled. You have grown in your capacity to handle life, with a higher perspective and reassessed values. For me it means, like Stephen Stills wrote in his song, “And if you can't be with the one you love honey / Love the one you're with.” Even though I can’t be with my son in this world, I can love the precious ones that are in my life: my family, friends, and community.
Grief 2.0, is a softer version and less intense version of Grief 1.0. It even comes with a planner calendar for the future. I have discovered some great uses for it: schedule a trip to the Christmas fair with my granddaughters, volunteering with Mother Against Drunk Drivers, a fun birthday trip.
Sometimes, I wondered if I was still operating in Grief 1.0 when the pangs of longing were triggered by something simple like seeing his favorite chocolate bar in the store. But Grief 2.0 is much softer, and now that even makes me smile in my sadness. In Grief 2.0, we are grateful for them being a treasured part of our lives and permanently in our hard drive memory. However, we are also grateful for the new ones who have come into our lives since. Surprisingly we have a bigger capacity to embrace additional treasures in our present and future too.