"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: The Many Faces of Grief

Six weeks have passed since Danny died and I have learned many things, among which are some of the different faces of grief; they are not what I had imagined. If you think this will sadden you, don't read on.  I feel the need to try to write down some of the feelings and emotions of this space in which I find myself, for myself. I think it helps me to heal.

1.  There are, of course, the haunted eyes, the catch in the voice and the sudden pressure behind the eyes and throat that comes at you, unannounced, at odd moments. You have to leave and be alone with your tears.

2.  There is also the solid wall that appears in your mind when you are following a perfectly logical sequence of thoughts. It feels like the engine of your mind has suddenly slipped out of gear and you are in neutral, for no apparent reason.

3.  There is the frustration of having to deal with situations and make decisions about subjects which are outside of your knowledge base.  For example: I was in Lowes today looking at air compressors. I thought I needed a small one in my garage so I would have easy access whenever I needed one ....I need one often, as it happens.  I realized that I knew nothing about air compressors.  NOTHING.  (Thank goodness my smart son-in-law found me one instead. Hooray!)  I have never needed to know anything about them before.

4.  There is the face of grief  that is loneliness; not for company, but for the company of that particular person with whom you were most comfortable. You turn to make a comment about the show you're watching, or you pick up the phone to call them, or you miss them in the very ordinary dances that fill the day: When I shower, he brushes his teeth; when I brush my teeth, he shaves; when I wash the dishes, he cleans the stove; when I sit on the porch he sits beside me and we smile at the beauty of the morning.....those ordinary dances.

5.  There is the subtle face of guilt that sneaks its head up now and then when you are feeling surprisingly happy and at peace. (How dare you be happy! What is wrong with you that you can be happy when he is dead and gone?)

6.  There is the face of confusion which grabs you by the throat and will as you try to look ahead, not only to next week but to next year and the year after that: what will I do?  It has been so long since I was simply myself; I am not sure who I am as a single strand of color, since I have been woven into another for so long.

7.  There is the facet of grief which manifests itself as an inability to retain mental focus for any length of time. I used to be able to sit and disappear into a book for hours at a time; HOURS. I could write or play music, write poetry, work in the garden, sew on a quilt and be so engrossed in the work that the entire day would slip by unnoticed. Now I find that I cannot even stay in a book for more than thirty minutes, usually it is more like fifteen. My mind simply pops out and heads off in a new direction.  People assure me that I will get my own mind back again later on.  I hope so.

8.  There is the inability to make a quick decision about even the smallest of things.

9.  There are moments when I feel afraid of things that I have never been afraid of in my life, like the calling of coyotes that sing outside my door, or walking to the carport in the dark of night.  Ridiculous. I am not saying that I am afraid of these things all the time, just now and then, unexpectedly, for an instant.

10.  There is the desire to withdraw from conversations simply as a result of having nothing at all to say; a deep silence that sits in the heart of your soul. A deep sadness, as of one who has been left behind without a goodbye.

It has only been six weeks. I am sure there will be more to discover as I walk on through this particular journey.  Thank God I am not alone.


Abbey said...

That was hard to read in many ways, but expectedly so and definitely rings true. I cannot imagine losing my spouse, not in the very least and it has been many fewer years. We love you and are here for whatever we can be. Love you!

b said...

I identify with many of these. My situation is different yet in many ways the same. It's the history with someone that is so important. I know God has built that into us. You are surviving and will flourish in the love God has for you. You've put into words the feelings that so many people are experiencing. God bless you Debra.

kira said...

Aunt Deb, I really think you should write a book. I often find myself pondering your words days after I read them. They are thought provoking, and they touch the soul. The world needs more writers like you. I really enjoyed the line about being woven to another. I put it on my list of things I am hoping will happen when I meet someone. I put it on my cell phone for me to read when I forget what I'm really looking for.