how did i get here?

my husband, my beautiful Dragon, died suddenly at 12:03 AM on 9 February 2009. there was a cold, lovely full moon and 3 feet of snow on the ground. i "slept" for the following 10 months and "woke" to the physical and emotional pain and torments of deep grief. i "woke" to find i had moved the day of his funeral and that i am lost. i am looking for me while i figure out the abstract, unanswerable questions that follow behind any death. my art has evolved. his death changed that as well because i am forever changed and will forever bear the mark of losing the only man i can ever love.
there is alive and there is dead and there is a place in between. i am here wholly in my heart for my children, but i feel empty inside at this time. i miss him. i have not gotten very far in my grief journey. i make no apologies for this.
this is my place, my blog, where i write to tell the universe that i am still here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

to grieve or not to grieve

Bunny had herself a little debate over on Dan's blog. sort of stepped in it if you'll pardon the expression, but someone commented that there is no such thing as grief sometimes being a whole life long journey. she said we are not grieving after 6 to 15 months. anything beyond that and there are other issues not relating to the death and/or depression.

she was very adamant that newbies should not be mislead or frightened that they will feel this way for a long time. she claims she most definitely over her grief. she does not grieve for her deceased husband any longer and is happily remarried. he has been gone for 6 years. she has been remarried for over 4 of those years. she misses him but it's not grief. she said that with Dan being in a new relationship, he was no longer grieving and he needed to understand that and use the correct words. she stated that falling in love again, there are circumstances that need to be reconciled but that none of them involve grief. one of her final arguments was that, and i can only extrapolate she meant Dan words and my own comments, only presenting what she felt was a limited viewpoint was not helpful to newbies. newbies need their own kind who are right there along with them timewise with only a small pep talk here and there from those who have, i guess, been successfully finished with their grief as role models of what to aspire to.

i must be honest and admit it bothered me a little bit. she seemed rigid in her point of view. she put all her psychological eggs in one basket and the human condition seemed restricted to that one point of view. 6 - 15 months and then you are okay. George Bonanno's book "The Other Side of Sadness" was her gospel. i've read it. i wasn't impressed.

in a nutshell Bonano says we are hardwired to deal with loss and death. we are resilient and can bounce back quickly. he claims he has talked to hundreds of widows and widowers, parents whose children have died, etc. he believes grief has been misinterpreted.

i have not talked to hundreds. but i do know a handful who use the word grief to explain what they feel. they have used it beyond the 15 month finish line arbitrarily set out there. my friend whose funeral i attended last week used it at 21 years out. a gentleman who "grieved" for 35 years used it. no one corrected him or medicated him. it was acknowledged and accepted that what he felt was grief for his dead wife all his life.

i have been thinking of all of this as i sewed today. i had the day off from the Bear store and have been frantically sewing on a quilt i am crossing my fingers i finish in time for Christmas. a lot of work this one. but i think while i sew and now i have to take a break and eat something. and i thought i would talk to myself, and to you, dear reader, to see if i am wrong. maybe what i feel is not grief.

let me just bullet some simple facts.

* i still cry over him.
* i work successfully outside of my sewing here at the apartment.
* i ache sometimes with wanting him back.
* i laugh.
* i think about where he is and if he is safe in Heaven.
* i also worry that there might not really be a Heaven and like one of those episodes of "Ghost Hunters" he is stuck at the hospital or the room where he died.
* i tell jokes and interact. i am considered very witty where i work.
* i am not depressed, but i do feel sadness that all my dreams died with him.
* i smile and tease the people i work with, our guests, and am the main Party Bear at the store because i am so energetic and relate well to all age groups.
* i worry that i will not find him when i die.
* i sew for Bunny so that she looks pretty for work and for the photos i use here and on Facebook.
* i wish i had him to talk to and hold my hand and see him smile at me "that way" that made me tingle all over.
* i have no one single desire to have sex, meet anyone new, put myself out there; at least not yet. maybe never. i have no clue. but right now, i still wear my rings and strangers believe i am married.
* in my heart i feel i am grieving; the old fashioned kind that i grew up with.
* i no longer cry in public.

so am i grieving or am i finished with it and don't realize it? that was one of that woman's statements. i don't realize i am over my grief. i did feel insulted that she thinks i might not know my own heart and feelings. i was insulted that the words i personally choose are now considered wrong by "experts."

i stood my ground in the comment section of Dan's blog. i feel that we should be allowed to express ourselves as we see fit. language is so important. it is how we connect with each other.

her worry about newbies getting only one point of view seems misguided. she is presenting her point of view as the only correct one. kind of scary if you're a newbie {i hate that word} who feels like i did back then. {yes, i have re-read my blog from back then and really, only the intensity of the pain has lessened, but not my beliefs.} besides, of course newbies {still hating that word}, anyone, who reads blogs and books and listens to widow(er)s talk are getting only one side of the story. they are getting that writer's point of view. that's why libraries have so many different books. that's why there are a multitude of blogs out there. that's the beauty of differing points of view. but telling someone that they are absolutely wrong in what they feel and the words they choose to express those feelings is, at best, unkind.

i'm thinking: pick the ones that agree with your morals, your feelings, and your thoughts. pick and read and cleave to the ideas and concepts that bring you comfort and don't read the ones that don't. but do not negate what someone feels. do not condemn or criticize the words someone uses to describe their personal experience. grief is such a personal journey. it may last a week, 6 months, 15 months, or 35 years. but i do not believe anyone has the right to say, "this is the only way to grieve." or to say, "you are not grieving; you are done with it."

no one has the right to speak to someone else and use such absolutes.

'nuff said. if you wish to comment, feel free, but pretty please do so with respect. Bunny is very nervous about putting her thoughts out there. so many do criticize without realizing how much words can hurt.

and now, Bunny is going to make breakfast tacos for her supper, pull her piano shawl up around her fuzzy chin and watch some tv while she eats. then it's back to sewing.

sew, Bunny, sew. and grieve the way that feels comfortable to you.


megan said...

mmhmm. If people could add the little "this is what is true for me" phrase and just not insist that their way is right, I would be less rankled by strong opinion. Well, strong opinion that isn't true for me that is....

Debbie said...

I'm still grieving. I will always grieve for the loss of the love of my life. I don't believe that you can lose your best friend, soul mate, lover, co-parent and biggest cheerleader without grieving their loss for the rest of your life. That's just me and my opinion. We all need to find our own way and judgements sure don't help. Wishing you peace.

Anonymous said...

I think where we might have conflict is over the term "grief." I also lost my best friend, lover, soul mate and co-parent. I will always miss him, but I know the pain has receded over the past 15 months and no longer takes me to my knees like it did earlier on. I hope this continues; I hope the pain continues to recede and that memories of our time on Earth will bring more smiles than tears- although tears are okay too- and I hope for new love in my life. Love expands to include new life, if we wish.
I did find Annie's voice early on and found it helpful to think one day I would no longer feel so devastated. I appreciate all who share their journeys.

abandonedsouls said...

i fully appreciate all who speak. their truth is their own just as mine is. where i differed was in this: i would never tell someone what they feel is wrong, or that they are expressing themselves using the wrong words. your words and your thoughts, your feelings, are your own and no one has the right to gainsay.


judemiller1 said...

Yes--grieve the way that fits you best. Everyone is different and it is not up to one person to say how it "should" be done. My grandmother lived a successful life after grandpa died, but at times you would see that far away look on her face and knew she was grieving for the rest of her life. My step-mother had the house rid of my father's belongings within 5 days after he died and never mentioned his name since. Everyone does it differently. No one knows how they would react until or unless it has happened to them.

thelmaz said...

I absolutely don't believe there is a "right" way to grieve or a timetable to say you've graduated from grief. How we grieve and how long we grieve depends on our relationship with the person who died, how we've handled other difficult situations, where we are in our lives, and a million other things. Yes, I believe you can laugh and smile and appear grief-free on the outside but still be grieving. We're pretty good at acting the way others expect us to, putting on our happy faces, but what's inside is personal to every individual and nobody NOBODY should be criticized for whether they are griving or have "gotten over it."

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