Posts filed under ‘Musings’
We got something like 13.5″ of snow over the last 24 hours here in Boulder, Colorado. Looks like I’ve got some shovelin’ to do! It’s okay. I see it as a much-needed upper body workout (I say without having yet lifted a finger). :}
One of my brothers – Eric – committed suicide in 1988. It’s been a long time. I forgot how bereaved I was but my long-time therapist hasn’t. She reminded me recently that I was beside myself.
The way I picture my grief over Eric’s death now is it’s like a room in my head. It’s a room that that I go to now and then. When I open the door to that room it looks just like it did the day Eric died. Nothing has changed. The huge NOOOOOO! is still there.
I thought about Eric every hour of every day for about a year. Then I didn’t. I remembered him as he was but not as often though that room was still there. And it still is, though I don’t open that door as often or go into that room as frequently I did years ago. But, it’s still there. In my head.
We don’t “get over” losing someone. This is what we do:
This is how the trashy New York Post announced the death of Celine Dion’s husband, Rene Angelil:
It isn’t just a rag like the New York Post that frames the death of a cancer patient this way, it’s common; it’s everywhere: The patient lost the so-called “battle.”
The implication is that the cancer patient didn’t fight hard enough, that maybe the person was weak or gave up. So unfair and so unrealistic. It’s cancer for god sake. Is that a disease we routinely “win” a battle with? No. It’s as preposterous as a headline announcing that my husband “lost his battle with hydrocephalus” after his fall. He did everything he could to live but the hydrocephalus (fluid) caused his brain to die as it slowly filled his skull and crushed his brain tissue. How in the hell was Dan supposed to “battle” that? Likewise with Mr. Angelil. He cancer cells were dividing and spreading. How was he supposed to “battle” that? Physical things happen that kill people. There’s no “battling” them.
Anyway, rest in peace Rene Angelil. Sorry about the idiotic headline.
Watch the delightful Justin Lane, who can’t be more than ten or 11, give a most sensitive, sweet review of West Side Story:
What a great kid.
It’s Christmas Eve. Tomorrow marks the five-month anniversary of Dan’s death.
I remember Christmas Eves past. We’d tease about opening presents early. Sometimes we did and sometimes didn’t. Sometimes we had a fancy meal and sometimes we didn’t. Sometimes we stayed up late and sometimes we didn’t.
No matter what we did, I remember going to bed knowing he and I and the dogs were tucked in our bed, safe and sound with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.
I remember making ham and potatoes au gratin with lots of mustard and Gruyere.
I remember knowing we’d take the dogs for a walk no matter how icy or windy it was because Dan insisted. They were good dogs and they deserved it he said (and he was right).
I remember Dan enjoying the lights on our living room wreath — and that warming my heart.
I remember stroking his hair then and this summer when I wheeled him around the nursing home grounds in May and June.
I remember how he hugged my leg with his arm when I stood next to his wheelchair seven days before he died when I found him folded over at the waist because he couldn’t hold his torso up anymore.
Back then, at least, Dan was alive. ALIVE! I could smell him. I could touch him. I could see him. I could kiss him. I could tell him I loved him. I could hold him. I could feel his warmth and send him mine.
Now Dan is dead. His life on this Earth over. It will never be again.
Dan didn’t want to be dead at 64.
Its Christmas Eve and I’m numb. Frozen in grief. Empty. Hollowed out. Almost immobile. I’m walking through life like a zombie. I send a card here and there. I wave at a neighbor…thanking them for caring…hoping they know how much I appreciate their support but only having enough energy to do that wave.
I’m looking forward to January 1. At least the first “holiday season” without Dan will be over by then. Maybe the New Year will bring some relief.
I love you Dan. I’ll love you forever.
One of my two dogs, Mr. Al, looking out the front window this morning with the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in the background.
Mr. Al is sweet; very interactive, kind, sensitive. Not a mean bone in his body.
It’s going on five months since my dear Dan died. The five month anniversary will be December 25.
One of the most educational experiences of my journey through grief thus far has been to realize how utterly unprepared we are to talk about death, dying and the grieving process that follows. Death happens to all of us and almost everyone of a certain age (say, 50?) has had someone close to them die. That has been so since the beginning of time. It’s really something that our society or even our species hasn’t developed some sort of wisdom that’s passed down through the ages regarding how to be with someone who is experiencing grief. After all, again, almost every human being has experienced it and obviously, every human being will die. It is the one certainty we all share. We should be good at this. But we aren’t.
Here’s a brief tip – and I don’t think it applies just to the holidays – we can tuck into a corner of our brain to use when needed. It comes from the blog, Widower’s Grief:
For friends who are grieving, the best gift you can give is to not insist that they be happy.
They can’t set their grief aside just because it’s the holidays. But you can invite them to your party, and allow them to sit on the side, enjoy the music and the banter of conversations without taking part, and leave when they need to go.
The gift of the holidays is compassion. No special wrapping required.
And if you know someone who’s grieving, call them. Call them twice a week. For a year. See if they’ll let you do their shopping or take their dog for a walk or vacuum. The grieving person is exhausted because grieving is exhausting. Little chores take a tremendous amount of energy.
Sit and visit. Often. For a year. Let them talk. Their grief will change. They need someone to talk to during all its stages. Don’t stop paying attention after a month or two.
You might think oh, they’ve got lots of friends, I don’t want to bother them. Well, you’d be surprised. Chances are their “lots of friends” are people who don’t know what to do or say so in reality, your grieving friend might only have one or two people who do know what do, who are paying attention and/or who have experienced deep grief themselves. Maybe none of their friends know what to say or do. Maybe they’re all alone save for a support group they joined that meets once a month or something.
Bear that little ditty in mind and don’t try to make a friend’s grief “go away.” Nobody and no thing can cause that to happen. Grief is a thing that has to be walked right smack through the middle of, and friends who are simply with you make all the difference.