Sunday, August 11, 2019

It Hurts

 It hurts. Grief actually physically hurts. Drawing from my own experience, I can say that my gut clenches up and there’s this terrible constant dull ache in my chest that feels like my heart is breaking. There are times when I feel like curling into the fetal position and bawling my eyes out. Sometimes when I’m alone or with a good friend who understands, I do just that. Mostly, though, I wear a mask out in public to hide the pain.

For me, grief is like a Jack in the Box. One day, I'll be feeling fine, feeling as if my life is somehow on course, and then - Pop Goes the Weasel!  Some little thing will trigger me: a place, a song, or a smell. The tears start to flow and my mind starts to reel.  Images tumble around in my head - memories of one person I've lost ... two people ... three ....  Over the years, I've lost so many people I love.  My grief snowballs and becomes massive until I let myself cry it all out. There are days when I'm busy and happy, and I'm surrounded by people I adore.  And then, suddenly, once again - Pop Goes the Weasel!  Sometimes, when  I'm faced with any kind feelings of joy or accomplishment, I am immediately overwhelmed by guilt and regret. How can I be happy without the people who loved and supported me, and who were there from the very beginning? I know that this reasoning is faulty and that the people who have passed away would want me to be happy, but tell that to the ache in my heart. In recent years, my grieving process has gotten somewhat better, but that mean old weasel still keeps popping up occasionally, fucking with my mind and emotions.

Why am I writing this now?  Well, when my friend Leon died recently, and that damned weasel kept popping up, most of my friends and family were supportive and sensitive upon hearing the sad news. They said things like: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that, Anne. I know how much Leon meant to you. If you need to talk, I'm always here for you.

 That's fine. That's all you need to say. Sympathy and support - that's all!

There were some insensitive things said and done, though.  Sure, I get it.  Not everybody has known loss or the pain of grief.  I understand that, I get it, I really do.  And yet, I feel like some people just don't think before they speak. Platitudes are only just bearable, things like:  Well, at least you have your memories, or Don't worry, sweetie, you'll feel better soon .... Yeah, right.  But people say worse things, like: Well, everybody dies, you know. Everybody dies.

I think the worst thing for me, though, was when I told a friend of mine that Leon had bone cancer.  Her response was, "That doesn't sound good!" and to Google the life expectancy of people with bone cancer.  I didn't want to her this information, hell, I was barely coping with the fact that Leon was sick.  I had lost so many friends and family members already, I just wanted some emotional support.  This may sound ridiculous, because it even seemed ridiculous to me at the time, but I actually hid in my own bathroom until my friend left.

In closing, I just want to sy, if you know someone who is grieving, try to be sensitive to their feelings, and try to put yourself in their shoes.

Grief hurts, man.  Grief hurts like a fucking bitch.