Monday, February 22, 2010

Walking Beside The Grief

It was a strange weekend where I was feeling disjointed and disconnected. On Friday I called up my closest girlfriend to ask if she wanted to go with me to see my son perform in the "Mr. _____ High School" production he is competing in. I was in the parking lot at the sporting goods store to exchange a pair of compression shorts for my youngest, running track. I got distracted and locked the keys in the van because I was still on the phone. In six years of living on my own I have always had that fear on my mind - of locking the keys in after me. And for six long years I've accomplished avoiding that event. Luckily, it wasn't such a big deal. My oldest was still at school and found a friend to drive him over to the sporting goods store and my life was restored and back to normal in about a half-hour.

My girlfriend asked me to join her for dinner that night. We went to a place where I had a buy-one-get-one coupon. When I told my oldest I was going out he was thrilled - he told me I need to get out more, do more, etc. While we were dining, my girlfriend realized that there was an eerie connection to the date. Last year, she had driven me to my divorce mediation in an ice storm. We were hours late and I remember my ex being furious that he had to pay his attorney for the extra time. My friend and I many times that morning feared for our lives driving on pure ice. We didn't talk much about my ex or the divorce. It was just an interesting connection to note and makes you wonder about how certain dates and times match up.

The evening which was restoring and a rare treat, ended with a headache on account of the glass of Cabernet and then the very strong Whiskey Sour following. I wasn't motivated to do much when I got home.

Saturday I took my oldest to a costume shop 30 minutes away to rent an Elvis costume for his pageant. I figured by the time we tried to piece something together on our own from the party stores and Goodwill, it would probably cost as much as the $50.00 rental fee. Plus we'd avoid a lot of stress. He loved the gold jumpsuit so it was worth it. It was also fun to check out the costume shop which brought back memories of my theater days in high school and college. But I also felt out of sorts and out of the loop. I seem to get out so rarely now - I live a kind of secluded and lonely life. It was a sad realization.

The threat of an approaching winter storm held me captive over the rest of the weekend and I remained unmotivated and listless. The dishes sat in the sink; I didn't go to the storage shed; I threw together meals from what was in the house. I did crochet a rug for the kitchen and read.

There was a lot of sadness this weekend very present and close to the surface. As easy as it is for people to say, "Move on and get over it" it is hard to stop thinking about what I have lost, the life I used to live, the life I hoped to live and compare that to my life now. There is the slow realization that the grief inside me will remain and I can only do my best to work around it. Somehow I have to rise to the occasion and be there for my boys to the most of my ability. This is a very shitty realization to come to. The grief just doesn't go away even when you work at it and process it and walk through the pain. I guess you have to somehow make peace with it knowing that it will remain with you. Maybe the reconciliation process of grief is that you somehow keep plodding forward with the losses next to you - not behind you or buried beneath you. You walk forward as a much different and changed person, stronger they all say. Maybe even a little jaded and numb but that's not such a bad thing. You walk forward with the grief beside you. It is not your close friend or buddy. But you do nod at it and are able to look it straight in the eye without dissolving into tears, running away or hiding.

I am grateful:

1. That the snow wasn't as bad as I'd initially heard - more slush-like and wet.
2. That I woke up this morning.
3. For my friendship with my girlfriend which has endured the end of her marriage and both of mine.
4. The clean slate of a new day.
5. The fresh start of a new week.


  1. There must be something in the collective water. Someone called me today and asked me how I was doing? It had been so long since anyone asked me that I was almost taken aback. I answered "Well it isn't a bed of roses but it isn't a shit storm either". Like you said, we dance around our grief for others as needed. It's like a PRN order. I'm just not sure if it's grieve as needed or pretend to be ok as needed. Maybe it's a little of both.
    My books just arrived. I am excited about that. But after a 12 hr day I can't even think about opening one. I have 2 more days like this and then 4 days off. I shall read this weekend!

  2. I love the response you gave to the person who asked how you were. I checked out where you got your books and could not believe there were so many great titles for only 75 cents! I mentioned it to Sam and he replied, "But you already have so many books..." It was fun to look and dream. I would not be able to wait to start reading and would be peeking just a little. You have something to really look forward to later in the week.

  3. Just got a phone call. The boys grandfather is in the hospital and going straight to hospice. They are coming on Thurs. The oldest one is refusing to come thus far. He cannot handle another death. He is the one I am most worried about. He will only talk to me about Joe. He shuts everyone else out. Right now he is ignoring my calls and texts, which he knows is a major no no. This tells me he is a mess. He usually responds immediately because he knows he has to. I am worried. She doesn't want to force him. I agree. I am thinking we may wait and have him come for the funeral. I am not really sure how we should handle it. It's just too soon for another major loss. I do not want to do this!

  4. I am grateful for how you describe the long term effects of grief, and how you acknowledge it's presence. I can sense myself becoming more and more comfortable with it walking beside me as well. To be honest, I would prefer to think of it walking in front of me so that I can kick it in the ass once in a while.

    In any case, inspite of your sadness this weekend, you seem to have come out of it with a very good perspective.

  5. Kelly - I cried as I read your message - I have such feelings for your young man who lost his father and now faces this situation with his grandfather. All I can advise is that I hope those around him are as kind, compassionate and as understanding as possible. I really believe that having faced a major loss makes us more vulnerable (NOT STRONGER) for the ones we follow in the future. Especially when the losses are close together.

    Follow your heart in the upcoming days and stay true to what really matters. I'll be thinking of you because I know you're worried and concerned. Let me know if you need some online support and how things are going.

    Dan - One of my goals with this blog was to relate my experience. Even though my husband had been gone five years when I started this blog, I still felt the grief and it was so horribly reactivated when I was going through my divorce. In my case at least, I had a lot of old grief to work through, even from my childhood. But enough about that. I will start looking at my grief as walking in front of me some of the time so I can also give it a good kick in the rear now and then! That image is so funny and it gives me the realization that I have some control in this too - the grief doesn't always have to overpower me or win. Bless you for coming up with that and passing it on to me - I will laugh whenever I think about grief in front of me. Maybe I can even challenge it to a race and we'll see who can run faster!

  6. Thank you. They arrive Thurs at noon. I will be following my gut on this one. I told the oldest last night he didn't have to do anything he wasn't comfortable with. I think the best thing is to let him lead and be there to support.

  7. Kelly - I'll be thinking of you, the boys and all the family involved. I don't envy your situation but remember that you have the experience and inner knowledge to really be there for the boys in ways other people can't be because they don't know and don't get it. You sound like you're pretty focused, grounded and ready to face the weekend. Please take care and know that I'm thinking of you and sending support, strength and hugs.