Grieving is tough to grasp for the rational minded person. Shoot, it's tough for anyone to "get" and move through. Grieving as a couple over an affair isn't something that can be planned out. At first, grief is a constant unwelcome guest and later on grief becomes a darting sprite that is here and gone in surprising moments.
Given that, here are a few common aspects of grief, though no two journeys through it are the same.
Grief is unpredictable and random. It knows no master. Those who think they have it mastered find out through ulcers or other physical and life problems that indeed they don't. Grief will come when it comes. You will find yourself hurting at predictable times, like when you see an affair in a movie. It caught me off guard the first wedding I went to after the revelation. This was four years after the revelation. We had healed and healed and healed some more. But when I heard the vows, the promises of dedication and fidelity, an invisible sword sliced into my soul reminding me of our infidelities.
Along with being unpredictable, grief can be a messy and “out of control” adventure. It will arrive like an uninvited dinner guest, unpredictable in timing. But the intensity is also variable. When one is walking in household at Target, shopping for a basic necessity, and is slammed with a painful reminder (maybe the laundry detergent used in earlier, happier times), tears and snot may fly in aisle 6. Grief is humbling in its messiness.
Along with this, grief is disruptive. A new normal is being formed and grief makes sure normal doesn't become normal too soon. Crying during a basketball game, or struck dumb because you just walked by a man who was wearing your affair partners cologne or perfume and you hadn't had thoughts of him or her in while. Seemingly, grief throws you backward. In reality we underestimate the amount of pain that requires sorrow.
Grief doesn’t follow a direct route. It's a two lane highway along on a crooked ridge not I-70 smashing through middle America. Step by step grief plans don't take into account road construction, accidents, snow storms in Colorado where highways are shut down and vehicle malfunctions. Grief winds and turns daily, but rarely are there 'dangerous curves ahead' signs for it.
It will also last longer than expected. So it is here, a year into this thing, that we encourage you to reflect and see if you have been grieving together. Losses are losses and need to be faced. Perhaps that's today or maybe it will be years down the road like Ann and her dad.