How I wear my grief.

ImageI wear my grief differently. It was a discussion my mom and I were having today. I mentioned how people are constantly asking me how she is doing, and basically how, well, I’m tired of it. It has nothing to do with not caring. It’s just that I feel people are looking for a response that I simply cannot give them. What they are looking for is hope. It’s understandable. They want her to be ok. Of course they do, so do I. Hell, she wants to be ok too. But guess what? She isn’t. Her husband is still dead, and her body screams at her in pain. There is a huge gaping hole in her heart, and it fucking hurts. 

And then it hit me. When was it that people stopped asking me about how I’m doing? I can’t really even recall. There are a few here and there who ask, but overall, it’s always, “How is your mom doing?” I don’t hold it against anyone, it just got me thinking, and here is the conclusion I have come to- I wear my grief differently. My mom is constantly posting, writing, and talking about her grief- every day, in some form or another. It’s out there. She tears up and falls apart more frequently. She doesn’t hold back. Compared to her, I appear to be ok. And on the surface, I am. I teach my classes, I socialize, I laugh and smile, I post positive and loving messages, I am outwardly excited to be heading out on the road for 6 months with my mom. For all intents and purposes, my life is “normal” again. Until it’s not. And it comes on sudden and unexpectedly. Triggers are what we call them, and they can be a real bitch. 

I think because I appear to be happy, most folks assume I have moved on (whatever that means). And that’s likely why they don’t ask. Now mind you, I don’t want people asking all the time, cause guess what? The answer is still the same. My grief is still very much present and a monumental part of who I am. It has taken me to a depth of compassion, understanding, love, and heartache that I never would have been able to comprehend without my experience. I just don’t wear it on my sleeve anymore. Neither way is better or worse, they are just different. My relationship with my dad was different than the one he shared with my mom. Obviously. Neither of us love him more, just differently. He was a part of her day to day. I haven’t had that since I lived at home. It’s easier for me to imagine he is still adventuring out on that great open road- that I just haven’t talked to him in awhile, but will soon. 

And then while driving home from a magical day in Sedona, AZ, my mom’s car slams into a deer (or rather, that ass of a deer slams into her car). Suddenly, in that moment, my world is turned upside down. I want my dad. I want him for me, but honestly even more, I want him for my mom. He was her person. I at least had mine waiting for me at home. Want to hear something even more strange? I have momentary guilt about that. It’s completely irrational, and intellectually I understand that. But my heart screams anyway and starts playing that fun game of the why’s and what if’s. “Why is it that I get to run into the safe, loving arms of my husband, but my mom doesn’t?” *meltdown*  “What if my mom had been killed? She is the only parent I have left.” *meltdown*  “What if I had been killed? How would my mom handle that?” *meltdown*  They come sporadically, but when they do they hit like a ton of bricks. Sobbing, loss of stability in my legs, nausea, hyperventilation….and I am never prepared.

Be assured, my grief is ever present, but settles in a way that isn’t so obvious- even to me at times. The one thing I do know is that this is all NORMAL. And that brings a weird sense of comfort.



Class dismissed.   



5 thoughts on “How I wear my grief.

  1. So true. We all experience emotions of wide ranges in various stages and for some people, not at all. We each have our own ways to cope or decide not to cope. I think you make a great point. It “appears” you’re just fine and have “recovered” from your dad’s passing, but it’s quite contrary. It’s just not shown or posted as often or as much as you’ve explained beautifully.

    I find it interesting how nature’s beast is like that. People think because others look fine on the outside and don’t mention pain or grief that its somehow not there or non-existent. Those assumptions we humans make about people or things can really sting and sometimes be lethal. I’m not saying that your situation is lethal, but I know there are some cases where-unfortunately-that’s happened.

    No one can see the inner workings of pain, anger, happiness or sadness unless something is tangible or visually evident. The post you made has allowed me to reflect on natures beast. Just because its a beast doesn’t make it all bad, it’s just how a lot of people are wired and how socialization, civilization and society has shaped people in various ways.

    What I find so amazing is that each of our lives are not the same. We all don’t come into this world the exact same way….nor do we all leave it the same. Survivors left behind aren’t going to cope with it the same either. That brings our coping mechanisms all so unique to each of us. I’ve discovered “Self Help” books are great tools—however–they are suggestive and advisory. No way am I or you or the rest of society going to experience life and death in a chronologically expected order or systematic way.

    Those books out there are nice, they are references and they do help a lot of people figure out how they must trudge through the quagmire of quicksand and hope they aren’t completely sucked under. Each reader of those books won’t leave with the exact same “expected” result that our society sometimes wants us to conform to. It’s just “uncomfortable” to some people in society to have to “deal” with people who are consistently or constantly grieving-simply-because THOSE people dealt with it differently and “recovered” those expectations are then seen as applicable to everyone. Not so.

    I am glad that you have had this discussion with your mom and yes, neither of you are wrong. What may be outwardly displayed by your mom doesn’t mean that has to apply to you on a time frame basis. Individuality in this world is such a beautiful thing. We each connect and disconnect with things and people all so differently. Some want to burn every article of clothing a loved one owned because they couldn’t stand the sight of it. Others will leave clothing hanging in closets for decades because the thought of one article of clothing moved would mean a disorder of the monument and “shrine” as some may call that-of their loved one.

    It’s all good though. However we need to cope, discuss, not discuss death or life and all the day to day steps we take is ok. It’s not archaic or a sign we are pessimistic crumudgeon people. What makes us sparkle one day may need a polish the next.

    Thanks for sharing your insight. It’s spot on. Many hugs to you!


  2. I just want you to know I really hear you.My Dad died when I was 20. I never really knew him as my Mom raised us.He died 46 years ago, yet there are times when every cell in my body screams to be held and loved by my Dad. You keep writing & I’ll keep listening. ((hug)) Kathy

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