Don’t Get me Started. Here I go~

An article about the rituals of grief caught my eye yesterday.  The article in and of itself made some good points about ritualizing.  They should have stopped there.  The language used in the article took my attention away from its’ merits.

Try this on for size:

Even so, while some of the grief-stricken remain depressed for long periods of time-developing what’s called “complicated grief”, most people move on”.

Let me, for a moment, put out the fire that is flaming from my ears to just say…”What the fuck do you mean?  Are you kidding me?  They remain depressed?  Are you seriously using that word?

This was written by so-called experts.  Experts used the word depressed to describe the natural emotions resulting from grief.  To describe what is felt naturally and normally when someone you love dies and is gone from your life, never to be seen again.

If those experts were standing next to me, I’d slap them upside of their heads.

You know what’s depressing?  People like that.  People who want you to “move on”.   Hey, its been a while, nothing happening here, folks.  Move on.  Medicate yourself.  Feel what I call normal so that I  don’t feel unable to help you and therefore feel uncomfortable in my helplessness and I myself can move on.   Don’t have a pity party.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Yeah, move on.

I’ve had people ask me what I’ve been doing lately, as if I’ve been on holiday.  I’ve had people comment that I must be enjoying myself as I travel this Odyssey of Love.  Hey, you’re out there in this cool pink car towing that awesome trailer, meeting new people…wow, what a thrill!

What am I doing lately?  How about I’m trying to remind myself to breathe (when I remember to remind myself) because each breath and each heart beat is agony?  How about I feel like I’m starving for the touch of my husband’s arms around me, for his kiss on my lips, for his hand in mine?   How about I feel an unquenchable thirst for the vital, happy woman I used to be who is as gone as he is? How about I tell you that the adrenalin runs at such a high point in me that I wonder I don’t suffer a heart attack because it’s the adrenalin of grief and I listen to soothing music and hypnosis tapes and breathe and get massages and it doesn’t make a fucking difference because I still wake up in the morning and he’s still dead?  How about I tell you that anything other than a few bites of food gets my stomach all whoppered and I want to vomit?  How about I tell you that my grief is just going deeper because of assholes like those so-called experts or people in general who aren’t comfortable in just being present with grief and even I (and I say even I because as open as I’ve been about my grief, even I feel the pressure to put on the pleasant face and say oh I’m just fine how are you?) struggle with being up front about my grief at the 11 month point?  As if I’m committing a gross social faux pas by still grieving….

Grief is not a disease, people.  It does not mean depression.  It does not need to be medicalized.  Yes, unfortunately, grief is listed in the DSM 5, the holy bible of shrinks, as a disorder.  Oh, great.  As if it isn’t normal.  As if we don’t already question if we’re crazy.

Pathologizing grief is easy.  Our society wants that easy fix.  You’re sad?  Here’s a pill.  You’re different?  Here’s a pill.  Don’t hang onto your feelings for too long or we’ll give you a pill.  Fit in or we’ll give you a pill. Your depth of emotion is making me uncomfortable.  Here’s a pill. You need to be positive.  Here’s a pill.  Stop being so negative.  Here’s a pill.

Here’s what’s hard to do with someone in grief.  Just fucking BE with them.  Don’t feel like you have to fix it.  Guess what?  You can’t fix it.  Stop trying!

Don’t say “it makes you stronger, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, at least you have your memories, he’s in a better place, God must have wanted him more than you, its God’s plan, there’s a reason for it” and other drivel.   Bullshit drivel.  Those phrases diminish grief and they dismiss the heartfelt pain and can induce guilt and agitation, especially if one is religious.  Which wouldn’t be me.

You know what it helps to hear?

It sucks.   Tell me your story.  Let’s sit down and maybe you can share a memory with me.  What was your life like together?  How has this grief impacted you in the deepest ways?  Tell me how you met.  Tell me how you get through a day when you can’t even breathe?  How do you deflect the mindless chatter of ignorant people saying ignorant things to you?   How about a drink of water?  Hey, I’m going to have some toast-want a piece?  No worries about the tears-I’m right there with you.

Those words are good for the immediate time after the death and for….yeah, eternity. Try them.

Loving someone through grief is an exercise in vulnerability and that is intimidating for someone uncomfortable with emotion.   For myself, I’m grieving hard and if you’re uncomfortable with my grief I give you permission to not be around me.   I’m in a dark place even while I’m creating a life for myself.  There is no self-pity, there is no depression.  This grief has broken me wide open and there’s no going back.   There is my grief and there is a fire in my belly determination to change the language and perception of grief in our culture.

What am I doing lately?  Grieving my husband and wondering why I’m still alive when the pain is so intense I thought I’d have a heart attack by 10 AM.   How’s your day been?


31 thoughts on “Don’t Get me Started. Here I go~

  1. Thank you for your honesty about grief. April 23rd will be the 3 year mark of my 37 year old son’s death. I’m still grieving and will always be grieving. Your posts are real and heartfelt.

  2. Hi Alison, living with my husband for thirty years, he was my best friend, my advisor, my lover, my caregiver, I could go on and on. Never to hear his voice, never to ask for his help and for me, it’s been almost six years. Is there something wrong with me for still missing him after five years? I don’t think it’s grief still, yet I think about him every day and I can see people cringe when I still talk about Jerry. My friends tell me that I need to go out and get/look for a boyfriend, I don’t want a fucking boyfriend, I want my husband back next to me. I have a good friend who needed to have someone move in and become part of her family with her three children. Now, she says that she moved him in too soon after her husband died. Who knows, we all think what we are doing is best for us at the time. Yes I am lonely, but I am having a hard time wiping those thirty years away. I want to “move on”, yes, I hate that term too, I want to be happy like I was with Jerry. Life is fucking hard and no one can tell you what or how you should be grieving. I wish you blessings everyday. Hugs, Sharon – New Jersey

    • Sharon,
      No, nobody can tell you how to do it. I think we can only stick with each other AS we do it. I empathize with your “I don’t need a boyfriend, I want my husband”. Chuck and I spoke often over the years of our wish that whoever was left behind would find someone to love. The reality of that is an entirely different thing. I feel so starved for his touch that I could let someone into my life for that alone but I know that it wouldn’t be right for me or fair to whatever man it would be.

      I wouldn’t even think of trying to wipe away those 30 years. First of all, how can you? He was your life and helped make you who you are today. Any man who will again be part of my life will have to be okay, and confident enough, for Chuck to be part of my daily conversation. Not in a comparing way, but in a he was vitally important to my life way.

      Many blessings to you over the miles, Sharon. I hope we meet when I return to NJ~

  3. I grieve the loss of my wonderful, beautiful, talented, teacher son; who is so loved by everyone whose life he touched. There is not a minute in the day that his is not a part of my thought, I feel like I have been cut open and bleed horrible pain drops of blood. I am working on so many things at once. I plan to go to grief counseling and see if they can give me some ideas that may work for me. I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual and do believe in a time hereafter. My faith is strong yet the pain is there. So many people have come forth and given me love and prayers. I will never forget or stop loving him. This is an endless forever grief. I will call you. Diane

    • Diane,
      I’m so glad you touched base with me here. I haven’t been able to call you-my phone was stolen. I have another and the number is the same so if you could send me a text with your number, I’ll call you.

      Helen told me about your son and my heart breaks and aches for you, Diane. Whatever you need, day or night, I’m here to listen.

      Cut wide open and your heart dripping with blood and love and loss and grief-

      My heart reaches out across the miles to you, Diane~

  4. This is your and truth. Love it!!! You’re so right, just need people to “pull us out of our funk”, “help us move on”. We need people to listen to all that we lost. That’s what helps us to move on. Thanks for sharing, Allison! Blessings!! xoxoxo

  5. Hey woman…I was hoping for a little more honesty 🙂

    You are fucking awesome as you know I feel from my truth place you are

    No other way to be and I AM here for you .. always..

    Peace and Love from the heart


    Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2014 14:25:09 +0000 To:

  6. Thank you for pointing out most people are not comfortable with grief. This past week I posted every morning, for 4 days, to honor each daughter I’ve lost. I did not get a single “Like” or comment. No one came forward to offer any of the ways to comfort you mentioned.

    The DSM 5 categorizing grief as an illness is a great tragedy! I am wondering if there is an upside as counseling may now be covered by insurance. At its worst, though, this may morph into doctors using drugs and ECT to erase memories because family members are inconvenienced by someone’s grief. I know. Great post!!

    • Doretta,
      That is indeed one of the reasons grief was put into the DSM5 and I suppose that isn’t a bad thing. Except that most of the consultants who sat in on the DSM5, as with the others, are paid lobbyists and people with connections to pharma. And we KNOW pharma will make good money off of it. Hey, pills are the way to go, aren’t they?

      Its frightening in all ways. As much agony and pain as I’m in with Chuck’s death, if it meant that a dr treated me to erase memory so that I wouldn’t have it, I wouldn’t do it, because I don’t want to not have the memory of 24 beautiful years with him. No way.

  7. This is simply the best. Its the truth right from your heart and gut. You are on the road taking in the journey because you are authentic and real. Thanks so much for this brutal honesty. As you are willing to simply be and share the truth………….you give us permission to do the same. I lost a Mother at birth (adopted). Since Jan of 2012, I have said goodbye to my Dad, Mom, marriage and recently my beloved cattle dog. I, unlike you, find myself to be numb without feelings at all. I also am feeling lost and often lack energy. I read this post and shed a few tears for and with you my dear friend. Let’s just fucking feel what is real and be thankful that we have not had a heart attack so far today. I love you!!! Lisa

    • Lisa,
      Grief can bring us to our knees but I don’t see that as a negative thing. We can rise up more strongly than ever. My heart reaches out to yours for all the loss your heart holds.

      Grief and numbness-how can they go hand in hand? And yet, they do. I know my kids are feeling much the same. I’m so grateful that we have the relationships in our family that allow us to share openly with one another. At least we don’t then have to add insanity to the list.

      However I can support you, Lisa-its yours.
      Blessed be, always~

  8. ALISON, OMG !!!!! I am sobbing…for your thoughts are MINE…your feelings are MINE. And I am so very sad that someone else is feeling this intense horrid pain. Hugs 😢💖
    PS. I will supply the 2×4 to whack those “experts” upside their heads as I scream two lovely words…and they are NOT Happy Birthday!
    PPS Please start your book…you are an amazing writer…you make me cry…you make me laugh…you make me feel…

  9. Grief is too personal to be defined. It’s different for everyone. True, there are basic ‘rules’ for coping with the process of loss but it’s far too complicated to generalize. About the only advice anyone could give is, “Just continue to breathe.”

  10. I can relate to everything you said. I lost my best friend of more than 30 years, my husband, almost 2 years ago. I can still be brought to my knees missing him.

    • And that, Anonymous, is what’s real, isn’t it? The pain that comes with the love that is bigger than the pain and can bring us to our knees in the missing-ness.

      Blessed be, dear one. We’ll come through this together~

  11. Thank you for talking about what you need at this time. Most people don’t ask for what they need and they wind up with resentments when others are not mind readers. Normal is so highly over-rated. Normal is boring. Who dares to define normal anyway.

  12. My prayers go with you and your daughter. My grief due to my precious little boy’s death has been used cruelly against me. My daughter and I live our lives to honor his legacy of love however we may. We will look for you on our desert roads and blow kisses to heaven as we pass. Blessings of comforts

  13. I absolutely love your words here! Especially the last 3 sentences. Grieving the death of my 26 six year old son for 3 ¼ years now. There is no happy talk to speak, just concentrating on taking my next breathe. So those that need that from me can and do stay away. Real friends are beside me. Thank You!! Mary B.

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