Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Adjustment...Step 2.

The day after the funeral, people started asking me "How you doing...getting better?" Or, "Now things should get easier." "At least that's over...it'll be hard but at least things will return to normal."

I suppose the well-intentioned but misguided remarks come out of not knowing what to say. After all, what does one do with a person who is sad? How do you speak to that person about your plans for Thanksgiving, or remind them that they owe you $27?

At what point does mourning become a bother?

This process is new to me. I'm not sure what to expect from it. I'm not sure how far my inner resources will take me. I don't know at what point my heart will have had enough time...I wonder when I can start everything up again.

Grief is uncomfortable for a lot of people. They'd like to get it tidied out of the way. I cleaned up Sandy's bedroom two hours after she died, so her husband wouldn't have to come back home to hospice supplies, a rubber sheet, the aftermath of paramedics and fear and horror. Is it like that for people? They don't want to examine the frailty and uncertainty, the damage of death?

I don't know. I don't understand it. But I can see the need in their eyes when they ask me how I am - the anxiety that I might take my walls down and talk about my real feelings. Such a sense of relief when I stick to "I'm fine, thanks."

As a rule, I'm not a sharer. None of those people are in particular danger of having to soothe my sorrowing tears. But when I see how eager they are to pretend it never happened, to act like no one died, I think they might be cheating themselves. Remember Rascal? Every precious page of that beautiful book is a drop of flavour and texture, colour and scent and love. Not because he has the raccoon, but because he's going to lose the raccoon.

I've decided. I will feel the hurt as keenly and as deliberately as I felt the joy and the love of her before. As carefully as I will, sometime later, feel the happiness of remembering her.

I will wait it out.

The end will come eventually.


Gwen said...

<3 I love you, Shan.

kate said...

A friend, after a bitter divorce, told me the morning after her divorce was final she woke up to the alarm clock and the radio was on. The announcer was all chipper and doing the upbeat morning show shtick. She tore the radio out of the wall and threw it across the room. How dare anyone else be happy on this day, she thought.

Grief just is. There are no rules, no timelines and no set way to do anything. It just is. We each have our way. You'll find your way, and it will be the right way for you.

lizbon said...

I think you honor her by doing that, you know. By grieving her properly.


Dave Hingsburger said...

We are society that loves perfection. Anyone 'imperfect' knows that. In the minds of those who 'control' culture 'happy' is 'perfect' ... sad is messy. Happy is smiling with bright white teeth. Sad is wet, sad leaves clumps of sodden tissues and empty boxes of cookies all over the house. There are medications specifically made to take the 'sad' away - artificial happy is like artificial sweet; not real but will do in a pinch.

I love all the seasons. I love the progression of nature. I don't understand people who are all 'I love the summer, I'd like to live where it's summer all year round' ... creepy. Well, I love the emotions. I think they may be the most brilliant of all God's creations. I love how they colour my life. I love how they inform my experiences. I love how they allow me to really live and truly learn. I'm ok with messy. I'm ok with sad. I'm even ok with anger, denial, frustration, hurt, envy ... lust. They visit my odd little house regularly and while some are more welcome than others, they always show up at appropriate times. I figure I might as well invite them in, they knock at the door until I can't hear anything else anyways.

So, dearheart, go ahead a feel sad. Invite Sad in for Tea. Not to worry, I'll guarentee the visit will only be as long as is needed for 'peace' to get the car started, set the gps for your address, and make the drive.

There are probably way too many metaphors and the like in this response but I'm way too tired right now to go back and edit so I'm going to trust your ability to read between the lines to get what I tried to express in the lines themselves.

mel said...

I always felt like it was somehow my job to comfort the people who didn't know what to say to me, I didn't even resent it in any way - I just did it, it was very strange. And my friends who would call clearly to check on me, but who couldn't speak of why (I loved them for caring enough to do that anyway). There's no avoiding it when you've lost someone, you live with it deeply in every moment, it's not like there's danger of being "reminded". Your process of this, your writing, your incredibly compassionate commenters, are all so beautiful and true it overwhelms me.

geekknitter said...

The grief I've experienced has always put me in mind of a river. There were calmer bits, rapids and snags. Some days were good. Some days were bad. I think that you do yourself and your friend a great service by deciding to really feel it move through you.

Don't rush yourself, don't fight it. Cry when you must, laugh when you can. Eventually, some day, the tears will clear your eyes.

Peace to you.

Linda W said...

I lost my best friend to ALS 10 years ago. We had plans that when we got old (we were in our 50s when she died), that we would sit first on her porch, then on mine and knit and talk. Of course, we already did that, but somehow it seemed it would be different then, probably because we assumed that our husbands would be gone by then.

Well, it didn't get to happen, and it is making me cry to remember that, even now. But the grief is different now. It's no longer a great gaping hole that makes me wonder how I can hurt, and miss someone, that much. But, I still miss her. I still want to sit and knit with her. Slowly, the hole has filled with gratitude and love for her. And this summer, I started thinking about doing some of the patterns that we had collected to knit together. And instead of hurt, it felt good.

It takes awhile; grief has its own schedule. I've come to believe that grief is a partner to love and that, in some odd way, I can trust it to carry me through.

Janet said...

Shannon, I've been lurking here for quite a while. You're last two posts were hard to read because they brought back deep feelings from the loss of my husband. I feel so for your loss. I found reading your comments real comforting. I wonder if I could borrow your Uncle Dave when you are finished with him. I would like to have him in my corner like you do.

Susan said...

I remember Rascal...

Mary Lou said...

Our culture doesn't want to think about death or loss. I think that in some ways the Victorians had it right. We should be allowed to wear black arm bands for a year, and everyone knows we are grieving and don't expect us to be "over it" - you never get over it. It gets easier, of course, but our losses are part of who we are.

Annalea said...

There are so many beautiful things already written, I'll just add one small thing more.

Be honest with those who ask you how you are . . . in a way that will reassure them, but honor Sandy. (Does that even make sense?) Find simple words that would play the part of Mary Lou's black armband, but let them know that they can trust that you're not going to shatter in front of them.

The only words that come to my mind are something like "I just lost my best friend. I miss her. And I honor her life by going on with mine."

It has been a privilege to read your posts, and to read the comments. You have a beautiful mind and soul, Shan. Thanks so much for writing.

Belinda said...

Dear Shannon, the price of loving much is being vulnerable to this pain. But, oh, what a bargain. I know you understand...Your grief touches my heart so deeply.