So, grief is a funny thing. Maybe funny is not the right word. But grief can make you do some pretty weird/odd things that can be downright funny. Like the person who won’t let anyone move the lawn mower from where Dad left it last. He did not die on the lawn mower, nor did he particularly like mowing or like that lawn mower, but you can’t move it because that is where Dad left it the last time he finished mowing. It has now become a monument to Dad. Or the fact that we walk up to the casket and say “Oh, she looks so good.” But how good can she look if she is dead? Or we say “Oh, she looks so bad.” Well, she should look bad, something killed her. Or we put pens in Dad’s pocket because he always had pens in his pocket. Yet he won’t be needing pens anymore. Or we make sure the person has on underwear. Does he need underwear where he is going? And actually, he is already gone. Only a shell remains. Pretty funny, really.
Or maybe a better word is interesting, or complicated or confusing. I suppose that’s why sociologists, psychologists and theologians write about it.
It’s fascinating that it turns your brain to mush. You can’t think straight, it hurts your heart and then seems to land with a thud, like a brick, in the pit of your stomach. It drags you down.
It makes you do things like run around digging through boxes to find all the old pictures of the person you have lost and you put a rubber band around them and keep them by your bed. And then you can’t sleep and get up and dig some more because you can’t find that one certain picture you know you have somewhere but you haven’t seen it for ages. All of a sudden, this person you haven’t dreamed about in ages is the star of every dream all night long for weeks.
You want to run from grief, avoid it, deny it. But the experts tell you that you have to fully experience it if you ever want it to go away. Why must you fully experience something just to get it to go away? Why can’t it just go away without me experiencing every part of it? If I choose not to partake of the ice cream I am offered it will just melt away. I don’t have to experience the brain freeze – I don’t want it, so I refuse it and it melts– it just melts away. Why can’t grief be like that? Someone wrote that there should be a statute of limitations on grief. After 30 days it just stops -can’t be felt any more. There would no longer be the brick in your core.
And what about the statute of limitations on those around you continuing to be understanding? How long can you say, “Forgive me for being so crappy, but my brother just died!” and be forgiven? Life goes on, meetings occur, jobs continue, so you pretend to be paying attention – but the brick still sits, and weighs you down, preoccupies your thoughts, steals your energy.
Grief makes you have awful thoughts like “ Why is my mother slowly wasting away in the blur of dementia, not enjoying life, not even truly experiencing life – yet my brother, who was full of vigor and had plans- things yet to do – died?”
Grief makes you want to pull those you cherish closer – to hold them tight. Yet grief can make you lash out at those close to you and cause you to push them away.
Grief makes everything more annoying. Some people are always going to be annoying or insensitive or simply stupid. Someone advised, “Don’t sweat it, losing someone important in your life allows you to ignore the small stuff.” But no, losing someone important in your life makes those annoying, insensitive stupid people MORE annoying! I just lost someone I love – I shouldn’t have to put up with this small stuff, like your stupidity! Get out of my way, get out of my face, get out of my life and stop being so stupid!
Grief makes you want to stay busy so you don’t have to think about it, yet grief stymies you – causes you to stand in the middle of the room and feel sad and bad and you can’t move. Grief makes your wheels just spin.
Grief makes those joyous times that may occur in the weeks or months after your loss, a bit less joyous, more bittersweet. Yet shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t you ENJOY those moments of joy more vigorously knowing they could end in a blink of any eye?
Grief makes you want to talk about it, to tell everyone how sad you feel. But grief makes you want to curl up in a ball and not talk and be left alone.
So what do we do? I suppose we do it all. Be silly, funny, grouchy, sad, impatient, hold close, push away and suffer through. And maybe write it down.
William Shakespeare wrote these words in Macbeth, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” So I write my grief, in the hope that it will knit my heart.