I knew I wanted to use this song as a title of a blog for a long while. I didn’t know how I would come about it or even the direction this post would take. But this song has always been a favorite of mine ever since I first heard Brad Hines play it at a little burger joint called The Love Shack in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Have you ever worn a “mask”? Or at the very least said “I’m gonna fake it til I make it”? Plastered on a smile when all you really wanna do is go home, curl up in bed, and watch a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon? Maybe that last little bit is just me, but you see where I am going with this…
We all do something similar…in one way or another. We tailor ourselves to fit in with the mood of others, or the situation that we currently find ourselves in. We hide behind a pretense of emotion. We falsely show the world what they want to see instead of what is truly happening inside.
Someone traveling the journey of grief will live their life wearing masks.
You will see us smile at strangers.
You will see us laugh at a joke.
You will see us tell a joke.
You will see us tease people.
You will see us work hard.
You will see us going out on the town.
You will see us sitting in the church pews on Sundays.
You will see us act like everything is normal.
You will see us living life.
Now that’s not to say that you won’t see us break down.
We are only human and can’t hold it together every second of every day. But I know from personal experience that a person grieving is not gonna let you see them weak all the time.
That mask will go on and they will pretend like everything is fine. Yet deep down they are barely able to stop themselves from shedding a tear or lashing out at someone over the simplest of things.
Now I do understand that you can’t live your life being the person that others expect you to be. I understand that you should always be who you are. “Just be yourself” and all that jazz…I get it. Please realize that these masks are temporary. Some year to year, some day to day, and some are even hour to hour. Non-permanent and short term. It’s how we attempt to live when all that we want to do is give up on ourselves and others.
Honestly, it’s all well and good to be who you are…however, a person grieving doesn’t always know who they are. They know the unchanged facts like their name, date of birth, age, occupation, etc.
They know who they WERE.
After a major loss, your normal has changed. You have changed. You work and work and work to try and make sense of this new “normal” that you have been thrust unwillingly into. Unfortunately, you will NEVER be the you that you were pre-grief.
The Adrian that I was with Marriah alive is most certainly NOT the Adrian that I am now with her gone. Every mask that I put on is in place so that I can figure out who I am now without judgement or people inserting their opinion. Whether the intention is well meaning or not, one of the phrases I absolutely despise hearing is “She would want…” or “What would Marriah want/tell you…”. She’s not hear to tell me whatever point you are trying to make like she is supposed to be, so what does it freakin’ matter. She should be here to tell me what she wants and she’s not. Her widower and I have had numerous conversations about that.
It doesn’t help that I feel an overwhelming amount of guilt most days because I am here and living my life while she isn’t. I am getting to do, and see, and be apart of things that she should be doing or that she would want to be doing.
So yes, I wear a mask.
Yes, I live my life like it’s a masquerade.
It’s my choice to do so and it’s my life to live as such.
This is how I am choosing to grieve. I made the decision to leave the job I loved because that mask was really hard to wear while working day in and day out in the same building where I learned we lost her. I make the choice when and where I wear my masks.
I make the choice everyday to get out of bed and live my life. It may not be the life I saw for myself, and I may be wearing a mask while I live it, but I am making the choices for me.
I wear a mask because if I don’t at least try to be living a happy life then the grief, survivors guilt, and depression will overwhelm me.
I am the one that has to live with my decisions.
I choose to wear a mask.
Love you always. Miss you forever, Sunflower. 🌻
Artist: Brad Hines (2004)