Grief entries

April 16, 2008 at 11:31 pm Leave a comment

These are two notes I wrote out to a support group after Russ died. I’ve been meaning to post them here, as a couple of people had asked for them. I remember that after the January 18 one, I couldn’t write at all for a long time, and that was how the grief evolved. It got “worse” in some ways. My sister still talks about the first meal I cooked, two months later, and I stood there, stunned over French Toast, not remembering how to make it. I moved through living like peanut butter, and the effort of putting anything into my mouth for nourishment, even provided to me, seemed just too hard. So here are these:

January 9, 2005

Grief. It’s this state of being, maybe something like being in a foreign country, and I speak only a little of the language, and I blunder along, and really just want to go home. I know that it can be fun, and will be fun, but right now, I’m into this world. It’s not exactly lonely, it’s just internal. It’s definitely not unexpected; in fact, before Russ died, we talked about the teamwork we had in bringing him to death and how I would need him after; but he’s not physically there; no soft warm skin, no cooing voice, just me and the internal, and the flow of tears. I eat a little, and then I’m done. I sleep a little, and the tape player of my mind kicks in playing tapes of the death, of scenes through the years, obsessively trying to remember details. I can’t multi task. I sort of like looking terrible. Russ had cancer, and I have grief. There aren’t any IV’s for this thing, no appointments, just me and my heart and the journey. Everyone says time. I remember that I got Russ to make tally marks for his Boost drinks to be sure he got in the basic nutrition; now I’m thinking I need rudimentary “survival” strategies for myself.

I love getting the books from so many of you…they are HUGE support for me. Words are a connection for me in learning about me, about healing myself. I welcome more books! Be sure your names are in them! I also have really loved the cards. I must say that each one touches me so; I have to sort of wiggle them around to see the words past the tears, and the tears so pour, and that’s a good thing; your acknowledgements affirm me.

I’m going to attach the obituary in case you missed it. Each thing that I do is so hard; I went to The Herald with that picture of Russ, and the Obituary guy Nick, was saying nice things about the writing, about the picture…I couldn’t help but think how any time someone walks through the door with a red face and a wad of Kleenex sets off a call button for Nick to walk out to guide someone like me to a quiet area. Shoot, then I cry by accident on pictures. I give; this is grief.

I’m wondering what to do about this little avenue of info to you; no more emergencies, but so many thoughts. I had thought I would write to you about Russ’ death, which all by itself, was really a beautiful thing, and maybe I will do it.

January 18, 2005

Here’s something I wrote in 1992: “My sadness is like a mushroom. I’m a perfect creature made by God, but I can be so fragile. I grow a lot after “storms,” but it’s not easy. I feel very alone. I feel like collapsing.” I love this thing that I wrote. It fits how I feel now so well; but the odd thing is that I wrote it in response to a pain that I now view as a “nothing.” It’s like the kids who wail over a paper cut that we can barely see; but is the pain legitimate? I think so. Pain is whatever pain is whenever it happens under whatever circumstances. What is worrisome is that the pain can be so big and so serious; I really feel that I have entered into a whole new zone of my life. I wonder if now I will be impervious to the “little pains?” I don’t know. It just really makes a lot more sense to me about those old folks, including my parents, who just always seemed to have quiet wisdom about pain in life. My dad used to look at old pictures of his buddies from the war, all those guys lined up and smiling, and there he would be, quiet. I think I get it now. Does my dad feel joy? Oh, yeah, but he has those silences. I think I’ll be part of that group of people now. Does that mean I’m getting “old” now? Maybe.

So it’s hard to do things. I meant to go to this fabulous dance weekend, which I signed up for about the time Russ was diagnosed; we both thought that certainly he would live much longer than that. He would have wanted me to go, to laugh, to twirl, to flirt, to hear the lively music. But I couldn’t do it. I just simply couldn’t do it. It really is as though I am sick; and it IS a sickness; the soul is trying to rebuild, and it’s hard, and there is nothing really overtly joyous about it. Moments of peace, joy in seeing rainbows or the whales spouting in the bay, but not really people oriented. I keep wondering where the humor is; the humor so many of you appreciated during “our” time—and I think that’s it—there is no “our” any more. I worked very hard for Russ. I poured all that I had into him and his path to death.

I likened the work to giving birth; I never gave birth, and frankly, always hoped to. I wanted children very badly. Sometime in November I realized clearly that I was instead, “giving death.” It’s the same “thankless” struggle and sucking of body and soul for another. Yet the struggle is the heart and soul of living, of the cycle of life. It’s the most significant contribution we can make: Birth. Death. A gift to a person who is on this planet, over whose life we have no ultimate control, yet so desperately needs a love to guide him or her in or out. We clean the path, sweep it lovely and rid the rocks, then the other walks it and I can’t pull him back. The cycle of life. There is no choice.

These days, it’s as though I’ve forgotten that Russ was ever ill. I miss the morning coffees, I miss the laughter, the play with the puppies, the silly talk we had between us and especially the warm embraces. I still go home and call out to him as though he were there. Oh, my mind has so much catching up to do.




Entry filed under: dying and grief.

Rocks Bones and Feathers My field

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