Saturday, August 9, 2008
Grief. It's not just for breakfast anymore!
I just read the most wonderful, thoughtful & well written post about what to do (or not) when someone loses a child:
When Children Die: What to Do. Or Say. Or Not.
The reason it struck me so hard is because the advice that Gwendomama gives is actually quite applicable to anyone who has suffered the loss of someone (or something) close to them; be it a child, parent, sibling, grandparent, or even a beloved pet.
I've never had to go through the pain of losing a child. G-d forbid, I hope I never do! But I've experienced a LOT of loss & major life-changing upheaval in the past 3 years. My mom died (July 24 2007), then my dad (July 12, 2008), my beloved dogs died a few weeks before mom (July 7, 2007), I sold my house & moved in w/ my elderly father (March 2007), started a new job after being unemployed for almost 2 years (Jan 2007) only to leave that job 10 months later, got pregnant unexpectedly (Sept 2005) & then had that baby (June 2006), and the pièce de résistance... my relationship w/ her daddy ended (April 2008). Oh, and then there's the friends who have either committed suicide, or had close friends/family who have (what is UP with all the suicides lately?).
I don't list all these things out so you can feel sorry for me, nor is it some pitiful attempt to make you understand. I list them because I'm the one that needs to recognize the losses are significant. I need to give myself a break for not handling my feelings very well (especially in the past year), for taking it out on the people I love most and/or for not being "over" it yet.
The fact that I'm not locked up in the Loony Bin, struggling against the confines of a straight jacket, drooling and mumbling incoherently... (or worse!) stuns even me. But I don't have the luxury of falling apart entirely. Don't forget, I have a little girl to raise! I certainly don't want to screw that up, she's much too precious to disappoint or fail in any way. At least, not on purpose.
So here's the deal. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm often in deep despair. Sometimes I'm okay, sometimes I have moments of clarity. I may even laugh out loud, participate in fun-filled activities, or get a little drunk & silly from the occasional glass of wine or margarita. Most days, I'm even productive.
Take this blog. It may be harsh for you to read all my thoughts & feelings, splayed out so openly, so RAW and in your face. Maybe it embarrasses you. Maybe it makes YOU angry. Maybe you wish I'd STFU. I get it. I do. But writing, it helps me. It's all I've got right now, so I'm gonna let it flow. I'm afraid I'll shrivel up & die if I don't.
Yes, my daughter brings me great joy & happiness on a DAILY basis. Yes, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a car to drive, money in the bank, friends who seem to like me, or at least they like my kid. LOL.
So what could I possibly have to be sad about? What could possibly be the big damn deal about losing my folks, my dogs, my relationship?
Because I haven't got a clue in hell what I'm supposed to do w/ all these feelings! They wash over me in great waves of intensity. The smallest thing can set them off. A scent, a memory, watching a certain sporting event that my dad would have liked, or seeing my daughter do something that my mother (or her daddy) would have found instantly amusing.
I wish my brother, or my ex, or my best friend, etc. were the ones I could reach out to. It's natural to want to seek out their company as comfort, I love them for crying out loud. But some of the people in my life are not safe right now. Going to them for comfort or even a quick hug is like going to the hardware store for bread. I'm starving for warm, soft, cozy, tasty, comforting bread. What I'm getting is saws, hammers, nails & lumber. Not good.
It's not their fault. I know my grief (and the resulting insane ways in which I express it) is really difficult to be around. I don't want to be around me either, you know? But what do I do in the meantime? Where do I go? How do I get to the other side of all this sadness?
In any case, I digress. Take a look at Gwendomama's blog, and if you find yourself scratching your head when you see me heading over to Crazy Town one more time, consider the possibility that a phone call, a hug, a decent meal, or a really strong liquor drink (hint, hint), might just be the very thing that keeps me from STAYING there.
P.S. My sister-in-law Elicia and I have not always seen eye to eye, but I want to thank her for all the ways in which she suited up for my dad (and by extension, me). It wasn't her JOB to do that; she has two little kids & a father that has his own myriad health issues. But she kept showing up anyway. She made my dad laugh when no one else could, and she was kind to him in a way that HE understood. That's a rare gift b/c my dad was hard to care for or love on, let me tell you! She also wrote the most beautiful tribute to him in his on-line obituary guest book that I will cherish forever. I know this has been a hard blow for her, my brother & their daughters. I don't want to minimize their grief! So, thanks 'Lish. You're the best SIL I could have asked for. My thoughts & prayers are with YOU too.