The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be, nor would you want to. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler.
As long I have to reinvent myself after a piece of my heart got cut out, I’m thinking about doing something I always wanted to do – go Goth. Don’t waste your time asking yourself if I’ve lost my mind. That ship has sailed.
Now I’m saying this a little tongue in cheek. But think about it. I can wear black all the time now because I have a perfectly good excuse. I can read Edgar Allen Poe in the middle of the night and then listen to Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy, the Cult, Rasputina and Siouxsie and the Banshees on my IPOD all day.
I can contemplate death without working up an effort because it’s always there, right at the front and center of my brain. Not my death necessarily. I of course know that I will die someday, but harbor no plans to bring about my own premature demise. Life is much too precious and brief to throw away.
I’m already rocking silver hair and the dark circles around my eyes. All I have to do is slap on some black eyeliner and dark lipstick and I’m half way there. I have tons of black clothes already, because well…I’ve always loved black clothes. I even own a black corset.
The loss is Christopher, my grandson, keeps sneaking up at me at the most inopportune moment. Last night Mr. Husband and I were watching the Patriots vs Ravens football game. I suddenly burst into tears because the thought that Christopher is a Patriots fan flitted across my mind. I thought only men cried when watching football? My poor husband tried to comfort me and said “I’m sure where ever he is he’s watching the game.” The Patriots won. YAY
So if I’m going to be in mourning for the foreseeable future, I may as well have some fun with it. Sounds a bit kooky, I know. But I never claimed to be a “normal” person.
Since I’ve been so sick and under the weather from grief at the death of my grandson, I’m running out of things to do that don’t involve much moving at all or any heavy breathing. Come to think of it I haven’t been capable of doing anything that involves much thinking either.
A few days ago I found myself incapable of doing anything more strenuous than lying on the bed and watching the screen saver on my computer cycle through.
Yesterday I started trolling YouTube to find things to laugh about. It’s great for my chest and sinuses to laugh because it sends me into a coughing and sneezing fit that really get things going in the snot department.
One thing I noticed is that there are tons of videos entitled “watch this it’s the funniest thing ever.” Many of them are so not funny at all… it’s almost but not quite funny. Maybe I don’t get it because I’m not a generation Xer or a millennial kid.
I even found a slew of videos called “nut shots.” These videos are made by a select group of young men who are doing us all a favor by removing themselves from the gene pool. They set up ways to have themselves get slammed in the nuts and catch it on tape. One guy sat at the bottom of a skate board tube with his legs spread and had a friend roll a bowling ball down the slope and into his crotch. My faith in coming generations was severely damaged by this.
Then there all the beauty tips by young girls and teenagers. Example: “How to grow your hair long.”
Hi, I’m Tiffany and I say “um” every fifth word, I’m going to tell you how to have long hair. It’s like totally rad, like what you do is not cut your hair, like for a really long time. And then you like run your fingers through your hair 15 times a minute and purse your lips. It’s like totally cool and it really works.
And while I let my hair grow, I’m going to show you how to put on lip gloss. What you do is like (zoom into close up of a container of lip gloss) stick your finger in the lip gloss and like smear it on your lips. Then I’m going to show you how to put on makeup. (More close ups of various drug store make up products) You like spread this foundation all over your face, it’s probably good to have the color match your face. Then you put on eye shadow, eye liner and mascara. It’s so cool see here I am without makeup (close of up of beautiful flawless 16 year old skin, followed by close up of a girl who now looks like the whore of Babylon.)
Maybe there needs to be a video blog made by and for women who are looking at 50 in the rear view mirror? Without make up on a bad day, especially when I’ve been sick for 2 weeks, I do a good impression of a corpse in a coffin. My lips are shriveled up and cracked. My nose is chapped. I have dark circles on under my eyes that would scare off a raccoon. Will running my fingers through my hair and talking like a valley girl help? Probably not.
For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 New International Version
My dear readers, the thief in the night came quicker than I thought. My darling grandson, Christopher age 26, was found dead at 5:30 am Saturday morning. My heart is broken at the loss of a sweet but troubled young man. When he first started talking he named me “Grandma Vick.” I was happy with that, because he had another grandma so that was his way of telling us apart.
What is even worse than this loss is the grief I feel for my daughter, my own baby, who has lost her beautiful son, her baby boy. I was with her when he was born, and love the both of them so much it hurts.
Christopher was a young man with a big chip on his shoulder. His father died young from either a suicide of drug overdose. He has suffered for years with mental illness, and drug addiction. Recently he was living in a homeless shelter for veterans. From what I can gather so far, he got in an argument with someone in the shelter and was either kicked out or left. He stormed off and went into a train station. Boston’s temperature lately has been in the low 30’s lately. He probably feel asleep or passed out from drugs or alcohol and succumbed to that and hypothermia.
So today I’m in Boston to be with my daughter to offer any support I can give her. We need to make arrangements to lay Christopher to rest. I’ve had a lot of trouble and arguments with my daughter, but there is no way that I could live with myself if I did not come to her side in this most painful time that any parent will ever experience, the loss of a child.
All I can ask of you is please pray for Christopher, his mother and family in our time of sorrow.
Thank you for listening.
My mother-in-law’s twin sister passed away peacefully last night. We knew it was coming since the massive stroke she had 5 days ago. I told myself well “she will be in a better place; she’s not suffering anymore, yada, yada. Well you know what? It’s not OK; it sucks big hairy donkey balls.
For while I had 3 mothers – a mother and twin mother-in-laws. How lucky can a person be? So I was in denial thinking it would be better when she passed, but it’s not. I guess the denial helped me deal with the waiting. You can’t hide from grief. You can tell yourself all the things you hear people about the loss of a loved one but it doesn’t help. Nothing helps. Grief is just something you have to pass through and come out the other side. Like birth or death, it’s not something you can avoid or talk your way out of it.
It kind of helps a tiny bit to think of her in funny moments. Like the times she would sit there in the kitchen with her sister in the morning, drinking coffee wearing a mu mu and a hairnet or curlers. It’s funny to think of her favorite thing to say when someone annoyed her. She would bark “why don’t you just go shit in your hat.” I don’t wear hats, but I still think that’s funny.
At our wedding I was so used to her and my mother-in-law looking exactly alike that I forgot to inform my family that she had an identical twin. My aunt came up to me and asked “why does your mother-in-law keep changing her dress?” Now that’s funny.
So we all have to walk this road and deal with our grief as best we can. It’s a process and it just takes time.
Hello all. I’m trying something new here today. A guest post. This is exciting and a little scary at the same time. On the one hand this blog is my baby and I’m scared to let anyone else hold it. On the other hand I feel the need to grow and try new things. So here goes. Hope you enjoy.
Guest Author: Claire Holt
Healing and Self-Identity through Fiction
That beautiful quote by American-Iranian writer and professor Azar Nafisi continues to resonate with me until this day: “What we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” It’s a succinct articulation which sums up my entire sentiment towards reading fiction which I could never put into words myself, but felt for years. And oddly enough, it is through literary fiction (as well as art, music, and film) where I have experienced the most fulfilling embodiment of revelation in my life. Whether reading a piece of short fiction or throwing myself into a multimedia project of elemental proportions, my sense of the world is encapsulated in this perpetual process of creativity and interpretation. And equally profound, it’s one of the few things which have empowered me to come to terms with my own psychological and metaphysical challenges.
Finding Our Inner Strength through Fiction
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for several years, and my constant mentors have revealed themselves through the heroic and not so heroic endeavors of protagonists and narrators from classical epics, Renaissance poetry, modernist fiction and pretty much everything in between. If the resilient strength which emerges and encompasses an inspirational sense of humanity prevails in even the bleakest of circumstances, then this is enough to restore faith in the greater good, and the readerly response will transcend from the page and into “real life”. When we sympathize with key characters, regardless of what superficial similarities they might or might not appear to share with us, we begin to discover the world through their perceptions and perspectives as well as holding our own. Their story becomes our story; their suffering and triumph becomes our suffering and triumph; and the experience carries with it a poignant kind of reality where we have felt and responded in very real ways.
Within these experiences, we discover a remarkable inner strength. Often, long after we have finished reading, we continue to spin around the ideas of the last great book we read in our heads, contemplating, analyzing, in a way giving life to the work’s ongoing legacy. Some people may argue that dramatic fiction fuels dramatic notions about the world – that we get this sense where good must always prevail and where people who choose the right will eventually be rewarded. Yet here is where fiction becomes the most crucial – we see what should happen, what could happen (whether for better or for worse, like in a critical dystopia) and what does happen, revealed in a light that few of us get to see. Works like P.D. James’ Children of Men highlight a reality which is not so far distanced from our own, while Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns sheds a staggering truth about what already is. But because in the midst of this we see the perseverance of our protagonists prevail no matter what the cost and our hearts echo their resilience, we too learn to be better human beings, even by relating to less than ideal archetypes who are not cardboard cutouts of the perfect hero.
So fiction in one sense teaches us to be good, or at least digs deep inside us to resurrect the urge to live by greater strength and become true to our morality. But it also helps us explore the many complexities and facets of our own personalities with a sometimes brutal, but sometimes gentle honesty. I did a lot of reading during a dark period of my life, where I felt shamed for my own disregard for myself and longing to turn my back on everything. I never touched a self-help book despite appreciating the importance of resources available to help those of my demographic, but buried myself in required reading for my classes and if I had time, my own choice of fiction. I found tremendous consolation in both – not because they distracted me from my own turmoil, but because I found an opportunity to face them in another universe so to speak. I learned that my emotions were complex and tangible, that I was actually quite an average human being, but one who merely felt the intensity of life a little more burningly than others. Even through collaborative efforts such as classroom discussion, I was able to come to terms with not only varying outlooks on life but with my idea of self. The healing process which takes place through reading is a very powerful one and even recognized worldwide.
But then there is also the fiction which directly deals with mental illness itself. I’m not just talking about iconic pop-culture works like Ken Kesey’s brilliant piece One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which is more about countering institutionalization than mental illness itself – but about all kinds of fiction where a particular character is featured who appears to be facing an internal adversary. Sometimes these characters are almost mis-portrayed, with their unique attributes played up for dramatic effect – while at other times they can produce a heartening effect, whether through courage or empathy or both. Even more bizarrely, I found that in a profoundly grounding sense, the more bizarre the work, the less of a bizarre individual I felt, learning to process my own world with a greater perspective.
Even through the exploration of delusional antagonists, out of the world plot sequences and disturbing events, we can find healing through reading, and help to better outline the contours of our identity and take this with us into the world. After all, literature only seeks to find a way to define what we already know deep inside.