When we first lost Bertie, someone described grief to us like a hole in the road, which we would eventually learn to walk around, but now and then we'd fall back in. For me, that hole has become not-so-affectionately known as "The Pit".
The Pit is a wide, deep hole, the sides get steeper the further in you go, and at the bottom is a black tarry substance. This is black despair. This is where it all begins. The loss pushes you into the pit, blindsides you and shocks you, you have no warning and cannot stop yourself from falling headlong into that tar. The tar is thick and sticky and stops you climbing out. It's more than swimming against the tide, it's like wading through thick treacle. It takes a lot of time to break even one foot out of the tar, but it is possible. It is made easier by a chain of people all holding hands to reach you and pull you out, your family, your friends, other angel mums, colleagues, clergymen, all sorts of people, anyone who reaches out can help as part of the chain.
Once out of the tar, so begins the long slow climb up the sides of The Pit. The steep sides at the bottom are slippery too, and it is all too easy to slip back into the tar at this stage, that chain of people are not off the hook yet! Eventually, you make it past the steep slippery walls and reach a little ledge to rest on, towards the top of the walls. Here is where you learn to cope. Congratulations, you see a sign that says "welcome to the new normal" you stay here for a long time, resting, recovering from the climb so far, trying to work out how to make it the rest of the way out, afraid to begin the upward climb again, for fear of slipping back down into the tar, you don't want to go back to that place. So, resting at the new normal, that seems safe for a while, from here, you can see the light peeping through the black clouds that hover over The Pit.
The ledge, the "new normal" is the place where the people outside see you doing very well. They see you getting on with life, managing maybe to make a few plans, to go to work, to function on a normal level. From here it is easier to hide the hurt inside, becuase the people outside don't see through the black clouds above you to the despair that surrounds you.
The ledge can be a lonely place, you can hear the people outside the pit living, laughing, enjoying life, you want to get out and be with them, feel like them, carefree and happy. You can't. You have to stay on the ledge for a long time whilst you process what has happened to you, and gather your strength to make it the rest of the way out. You do try though, some days you climb almost out of the pit, poke your head above the clouds and see the sun. You get to interact with the people outside for a while, but it doesn't last....after a while you feel weighed down, and, exhausted, you slide back down the edges of The Pit back to the ledge beneath the clouds. But, at least you are not back in the tar. From the ledge, you know you will eventually make it out......