Sump Pumps And Sadness ...
But every so often, seemingly out of nowhere, a wave of grief hits me and I wonder, "Where did that come from?"
There are no obvious triggers. Take the most recent episode, last week: I was shutting down my computer for the night and was suddenly sobbing, a torrential emotional release that superseded even my ability to breathe.
Of course, I felt better afterward. I always do. But it led me to try and understand the genesis of those moments. And I finally hit on the right analogy: grief and emotion work the same way as water in a sump pit.
When it rains heavily, the sump pit fills with water and trips the sump pump at regular intervals. Each time, the sump pump evacuates the water from the pit.
Eventually, though, the rain stops. But water remains in the ground. The flow into the sump pit, however, is slower and therefore the sump pump trips on and off with less frequency.
It may cycle on and off every 30 seconds during a heavy downpour, but water continues to filter through the soil so that even a day or two later, the float on the sump pump eventually trips the pump on, even though the sun may be shining.
And so it is with grief. For me, anyway. But I suspect the phenomenon applies to most people.
In the throes of a loss, grief is intense and expected. But as time passes, as life returns to some semblance of "normal," as we move further away from that epicenter of sadness, we focus less and less directly on the loss.
But we continue to process emotions. We are simply less aware that we're processing them. But that emotion continues to build, in the background, as it were, and when it reaches a critical mass, it's expressed.
Hence the other night when I was shutting down the computer. Nothing about shutting down the computer reminded me of any of the recent events. My grief had simply built up to the point where it needed a release.
So the storm has passed. But the after-effects continue. Predictably, though, sun follows rain.