23 July 2007

The 18 stages of grieving

When certain people ask me "How are you doing?" I can see that what they want to ask is "How are you handling your sister's death?"

But they never ask that. So I pretend not to notice and just say "Fine" or "Good" or some other inanity because I really don't want to start crying.

And yes, I am still crying. The frequency and vigor are somewhat surprising. I would think that by 2 1/2 months later, I could begin to taper off.

During the week is generally okay. Work, meetings, classes. But come Friday night and the gaping empty wound of the weekend, well, that is a different story. I spent most of Saturday night covered in tears and snot. Is that what my sister would have wanted for me? No way. But this is my grief, dammit, not hers.

I still don't really want to go out, see people, do much. But I do because the alternative is to be here with my own thoughts, which are sucky and dark and so, so tiresome.

Heather B. had a great post about this the other day:
It’s hard for me to be accepting of anyone’s friendship or caring during those moments because while I appreciate it, it all ends up suffocating me to a point where I shut down and disappear into my bedroom for a weekend. Only to emerge for the occasional cupcake and Trader Joe’s, while I continuously pull the “I’m fine” bullshit. This eventually turns into vitriol that I never thought I could or would be capable of and the cycle perpetuates itself until I can regain some control. I’m a person destined by neurological defect to be unhappy and during the really unhappy times, I figure I’d spread the joy of my unhappiness to others.
I understand exactly what she means.

If I had any advice to give people, it would be: don't let your loved ones die. Ever. Because it just isn't worth it.


QT said...

I wish I knew what to say that would be helpful and enlightening.

However, I just don't think I would be in any different shape than you if my sister died.

At least this coming weekend you will be surrounded by joy. Whether or not your sister would dig that, I don't know. But the rest of us are looking forward to seeing you!

Anonymous said...

When my kids' dad died, people, in their goodness, would say "How are your kids?" After a while I realized that it was ridiculous to say "Fine." So I didn't. Then someone would tip their head to the side and say "How are your kids doing?" And I'd answer, "Not good at all." Then the um's, oh's, and fumbling came about. No one really wanted to know. And frankly, it became sort of fun to watch people squirm. And I was taking fun where ever I could get it back then. Oh and by the way, now, my kids are REALLY fine (so feel free to ask!)

Major Bedhead said...

Grieving is hard and it's going to take you as long as it takes. I wish I had some great advice on this, but I don't. Grief is just one of those shitty, shitty things that we have to plow thru some how. It's really hard and totally personal and I don't think you should be beating yourself up over the way you feel.

mamatulip said...

I understand exactly what she -- and you -- mean, too.

It will always be with you, the grief. It comes and goes, ebbs and flows, and sometimes it's easier to deal with than others. But like you said in your post, it's your grief, so do with it what feels right at that moment.

Anonymous said...

I've not yet had to deal with this sort of grief. I can't pretend to have any idea what you're feeling. I can only hope that whatever I say - or others say - doesn't make you hurt more. That's the last thing I'd want.

Anonymous said...

I know exactally what she means too... Perhaps we are all a little crazy that way.

Anonymous said...

What a great post. There just aren't words to describe emotions sometimes.
My aunt lost her battle with MS on June 13th. I live in Ohio, she lived in Portland, OR and haven't seen her since my wedding in 2002.

I have pangs and jags a lot myself. She hasn't been able to verbally express herself on the phone in a year or so. I really thought I was already going through the grieving process. .. but it was almost like I was hearing things for the first time.

Her ashes will be scattered in the Cascades at a later date.
I was reading your thoughts about your sister with great emotion. I am going to be one Mell of a Hess for sure.

debangel said...

Bravo! Well-said. I am still bawling about my mom and everybody who's sick of hearing it can kiss my white dimply ass. Nobody else we love is allowed to leave until we say so. I for one am only going to allow anyone to leave once I am a size 00 and on medical orders to quash my grief with massive quantities of devil's food cupcakes.

Heck, that sounds like a good idea, anyway. Suebob, you like cupcakes?

debangel said...

I almost forgot, if you haven't seen it, Google "Five stages of grief" + giraffe. Make sure your bladder is empty, first, though!

Anonymous said...

A question that I get asked is, "What are you doing with all that free time you have now?" It's one of those questions that if people stopped for a moment and thought about it, they'd realize just how dumb it is. Oh, you mean all the free time I have now that I'm not desperately trying to help my mother fight a degenerative disease that is stealing her mind and personality? Ah, *that* free time!

The companion question is "I bet you're glad to have your life back." Granted, the last years have been rough -- and yes, I am glad to not have to deal with diapers and doctor's appointments -- but it's a life without my mother.

If I feel generous towards the questioner, I'll say gently, "I don't have my life back. I have a different life now." Usually they'll flash to it and get embarrassed and apologize. And I will have accomplished a little teaching moment.

It's hard for people... if they don't ask, they come across as insensitive. If they do ask, they're likely to say the wrong thing.

A friend of mine sent me this quote from Lemony Snicket: "If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels; and if you haven't, you cannot possibly imagine it."

LittlePea said...

Oh Suebob-this broke my heart for you. You take as much time as you need-there is no 'timeline' for grieving. Actually losing someone isn't something anyone 'gets over'. Hopefully, after a while the memories begin to make you feel happy instead of lost and sad. But it's still new for you. It's only normal for you to just say, oh I'm fine, because if you say exactly how you feel, it's just going to make you feel worse. And of course your sister wouldn't want you to feel all the sorrow but I'm sure she wouldn't want you to suppress your feelings either. I hope you have a good time at Blogher-I wish I were going so I could give you a big hug.

Anonymous said...

Dang that Lemony Snicket! There was also a great line that Nanny McPhee said, ""When you need me, but do not want me, then I will stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go."
Timeline for grief??? My mom died over thirty years ago and when I saw that - just in the trailer - I burst into tears.

You'll go through the stages of grief as you need to. The pounding waves begin to ebb and flow with more gentleness. Seek out friends when you need them. We are here. As, of course, are the cookie and candy aisle at Trader Joe's in a pinch.

Back to top