I’ve wondered how to escape the feelings of grief. I’d like to put them aside once and awhile. The thing is, grief doesn’t agree with that. It doesn’t go anywhere. The only way out of grief is RIGHT DAMN THROUGH IT.
It took me 15 years to grieve the death of my Mother, my brothers, my Father, I thought I could trick it. I thought I could cheat it. Become busy enough to not care. Make enough money. Be the best person. Truth. It didn’t work.
I had to get to know grief in order to let it go. I spent months, maybe even years – 15 years after my Mother died, crying and mourning the loss.
Today, I get it. My dog is dead and I’m a wreck. The kind of wreck that doesn’t want to eat, move, breathe. But I get it. Grief makes you sick. I cry at the grocery store, the eyeglasses store, the running store and I just don’t care.
When my Mother died – no one told me how it would go, I read a pamphlet at the funeral home about the five stages of grief. That’s all the advice I got. A few months later or maybe a year – I saw a book called Motherless Daughter’s by Hope Edelman and I picked it up and devoured it. I got it and I thought at 20 that I had grieved enough. That I was all better for having read the book and that I could move on. So I did. I read in her book that I’d always feel the loss and it would get easier but I’d always miss her. FINE! CHECK!
But 10 years later I still felt small, weak, trying to outrun grief, ignoring the fact that I was miserable.
So, I sat myself down and thought – what the hell are you doing to yourself. Figure it out! And I began to grieve all of the losses, my Mother, my two brothers, and then my Father – because that was more difficult. I never liked him. So how do you grieve someone you don’t even like? You don’t. You grieve the loss of what you never had or believed you should have had. You feel sorry for yourself, you dig deep, you do what you have to do until you don’t need to do it anymore.
I kept telling myself you’re an adult now and you can choose to grieve and then be done with it. But the truth is – you’re not – that shit will come back to you in one minute and knock you on your ass.
My Wonder dog died just 4 days ago. I relive those last frantic moments her head flopping back as we picked her up out of the back of the car, me knowing she was nearly gone, the sweet vet techs that cleaned her up, put a heart on her bandage on her leg and put her on a table under a blanket. Posed as if she was sleeping. That moment. I remember. And then I stop and I remember all the other moments of grief. Standing by my Mother’s casket, picking up my Father’s ashes, hearing my brother Michael died on a phone call from his friend in California, holding my brother Bob’s hand as he took one last deep breath. My grief. I get it. But sometimes grief – I want you to back the fuck off. I’m tired. And yet, you keep it coming, you’re an old friend now. Fine, I’ll get back up ONE. MORE. TIME. Because that’s what we do. We don’t give up.
No one tells you that you grieve until you’re done. You cry until you don’t. The only way is through. It’s different every time. My good friend Kate once said to me – what’s a year of grief in an entire lifetime? I was done. I didn’t want to cry anymore, but she was right. What is a year of grief in a lifetime? Worth having loved – that’s what.
What’s your story of grief and what story are you telling yourself about it?