Thursday, July 30, 2009

Anatomy of grief

It's been 5 years this month that Dan's mom passed away.

I wrote this a couple weeks after losing her. I couldn't share this earlier -- it smarted too much -- but I can now that enough time has passed. I've also been thinking a lot about death because, well, I'm morbid like that sometimes. And also I know a lot of family & friends who've been in rough places.

Anatomy of Grief 8/6/04
This morning I woke up and looked at the clock... it said 7:48 and I thought oh god, that was her phone number. For the rest of the day, a giant hole widened within. Why? Everyone asks why. It's too cliche for me to be asking it too but I can't help it. I also can't help but morbidly imagine everyone I love disappearing, even the dog and parakeets. To write about this almost seems useless. It's a way of trying to capture the grief and emptiness and pin it down, trap it on paper. But words aren't adequate and I find myself feeling even more lost.

Sometimes I try to understand how grave this is. Almost like if I can comprehend it all now then the next 12 months will be easier. But I just can't make it happen, can't wrap my mind around it. I still don't feel like it's real. I know that's common, that this is the first stage of grief, but that doesn't help. I'm being stubborn and incorrigible. I don't even want it to help. I want to feel the pain stabbing as an honor to her memory. Yeah, hurt bad. She meant so much she doesn't deserve less.

My insides are at war. Everyone experiences death. Look at what poor R went through last year, and L several years ago. A. Was I there for them? Did I understand? Did I stupidly try to comfort them by distracting them with drivel? Loss sucks. I have little experience with this and I'm scared. How many more times in my life will I experience this? The alternative is also horrid, that anyone should feel this way about losing me.

For the next however many years I am going to have to crawl through time with the only comfort that next year the pain will be less sharp, although that's only an abstract thought of little comfort now.

I will make it through this next year. I will get up and shower and go to the bank and walk the dog and buy milk and work.

I will do all these things but my self, my feelings that are centered around this tragedy, will be in a messy heap on the floor of my mind.


Steve said...

Beautifully written.

Linda said...

Funny - I want to leave a comment but my own words are not adequate enough to describe my thoughts!

I appreciate your words and I'm so happy you wrote it. A part of me wishes this wasn't listed under a TMI segment. Grief and death and sadness are all parts of life. This world shows us so many polarities and thank goodness for that. We'd never know happiness if we didn't know sadness. We wouldn't know light if we couldn't understand dark...

Grief is a kind of love affair. If you look deeply into your sorrow and pain, you see how much you truly loved the person you are grieving for and really, how beautiful is that!? Even when a funny memory comes in or remembering how my mom's voice sounded, I feel joy and pain in that memory. This is beautiful to feel that, to express it and to not attach to it - to let it go.

Grief is a cycle. Whoever says it happens in a linear fashion doesn't fully understand life, I don't think. It's been 14 years this July since my mom died. I've grieved her death in many ways in the 14 years. It's not totally that the grief becomes easier - it's that it becomes more like an old friend. I let it in and welcome it because I know it's here and it wants to be heard and given time just like happiness and joy does. Thankfully happiness and joy like to linger longer and frankly make better friends! :-) But why shut grief out? Why stop it or suppress it or shame it or call it depression? (I'm not saying you've done any of this, mind you - I'm just writing from my experience...) Maybe when one tries to suppress it, grief becomes bigger to the point that it does become something else. I don't know. I don't want to know which is why I let it in like an old friend - make it a cup of tea and listen to what it has to say. Very often when I do this sort of exercise with any kind of "negative" emotion, I find a lot of opening up and learning comes from it. So I welcome the cycle of life and all it's mysteries and lessons and feelings.

I think it's when we can truly experience what we're feeling, we are more able to let it go. It doesn't cling on so long and so hard. If I need to cry, I cry. If I need to make one of my mom's favorite meals, then I make it and sit with her in silence while I make it. If I need to write about it, I do. If I need to talk to someone, I find someone who will listen. If I need to talk to her, well I sit and visualize talking to her or I visit her grave and talk to her or I write her a letter. It finally all feels fine to do. Doesn't feel weird or morbid and there's nothing wrong with having some memory come in one day after 14 years that makes me think of her and then some sadness or humor or welling up comes up in me. This is all a part of life. It's all good.

Thank you for this morning's read. There's a downpour outside, the kids are still sleeping and I'm listening to the water hitting the house and earth. I couldn't think of anything more peaceful than to do this right now.

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