Grief

I thought I knew a lot about grief.  I thought I was pretty good at it actually.  As nurses  we study grief.  I’ve taken continuing education courses on it.  I’ve supported parents when their baby died.  Sometimes that was a very personal experience, when I took care of their baby every day for months.  And sometimes  it was more professional, when I had just been assigned to their baby for the first time that day.  And goodness knows I have deeply grieved the loss of so many of my beloved dogs over the years.

But this grief is different.  It is not the heart-breaking, gut-wrenching grief that I have experienced in the past.  For goodness sake, I hardly cried at all for a couple of weeks.  Hmmm, I thought to myself,  I got off easy on this one.  WRONG!

This time  I have had days where I felt a little down.  Days where I just wasn’t motivated to do much.  LOTS of days where I didn’t want to talk to people, and where, frankly, I just was a wee bit irritated at them.  And then, of course, there is the guilt and confusion that comes along.  Am I just indulging my naturally lazy tendencies?  Am I just giving in to my usual irritation at people’s shortcomings?  Am I finally as depressed as the rest of the world is?  And worst of all, IS IT MANDATORY THAT  YOU GAIN TWENTY POUNDS WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR FATHER?

My pastor sent me a little book on grief.  It was so helpful.  The best chapter was the one that compared grief to fog.  I know about fog.  I’ve been driving through fog to and from work for over twenty years.  It just made so much sense to me.  How I would be going along fine, have a nice plan for the day–a little work, a little fun–and then I would stand up, and realize nope, that’s not gonna happen today.  Other days its clear sailing, no fog rolling in at all.

Sometimes I think I’m just acting out–not doing so much housework, and not going back to the gym.   I think that’s why I’m so particularly pleased with how I’ve been eating this past week.  I’m not going off the deep end and “acting out” with my food choices.  I AM allowing myself to have a few more treats than normal without the guilt.  mostly.  Yes, I wish I could get with the program and get this extra weight off.  But for now, I will try to be content to maintain or lose tiny bits.  The day will come when I will get the house cleaned, get to the gym, and lose the weight.  For now I’m determined to treat myself with as much kindness as I have always encouraged other people to do when they lost a loved one.

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14 thoughts on “Grief

  1. Losing a parent for some people can wreck you. I lost a father at age 15 and my mother at age 42 and both with very different reactions. I still grieve for both of them. Last week I had my ‘trickster” dream where I dreamed my father was alive again and had never died but had gone away to recuperate. From that dream i learned how angry I was at him for being abandoned. I also dreamed last week that my mother died and when I woke up I literally had to remind myself that she has long been dead, but I had sobbed in my dream and physically felt like sobbing when I woke up….(I’ve been having some very telling dreams lately)

    … If I remember in reading your blog you are about to or have just retired also. Probably some grief over that (despite the constant jumping for joy).

    I guess I’m trying to say it transmutes, changes as time goes by. This brings your own mortality in to play too and all the choices you’ve made and the life you live sometimes comes under your own personal microscope. Big stuff, sister

    Do what you need to do to get by , but do it with awareness. I always think when you are going through something like this that it’s time for a trip down memory lane to places you lived and visited and/or time to hole up and do what makes your heart sing (dogs, food, quilting) and / or time to take the trip or journey to a place you have always wanted to go or experience to feel the renewal of dreams….or do all of the above in turn or something else…

    I’m just sayin.

    • PJ!!! Where did you get such wisdom from? You hit on some things that I wasn’t thinking as much about, but you are right. The end of my career. Yes, I’m happy, yes, I know its the right thing to do, but still, I can’t believe I am done doing something that was so very important to me for so long. And I will be losing some relationships that have been very important to me over the years. Because I know we won’t keep in touch like we have when we are forced to spend 12 hours together.

      And ‘the life you live under your own personal microscope.’ Yep. That’s a’happening too.

      I think I have always tried to live with awareness. (what can I learn from this.) But it can get a little bit lost in the fog. One of the things I keep saying is that I don’t just want to drift. And, I am daydreaming about ‘a journey to a place I’ve always wanted to go’–fun fun. More about that later.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a wise message.

  2. I’m glad you are allowing yourself the kindness that you would unequivocally give to others, were they in your shoes. Grief is a tough thing to walk through, because it can pop up and gives you a gut punch just when you think you are fine, everything is normal, etc. Then whammo. And no, I don’t think you’re giving in to your “naturally lazy” tendencies (hello soul sister!) – sometimes, it’s just hard to get the gumption to get off the couch while you’re going through this process. Wish I could give you a big hug right now…please know that I’m available for venting anytime.

    • Yeah. The other day a woman was telling me that she lost her mother a year ago, and still the grief hits her unexpectedly at times. Oh, great. Thanks.

  3. I hope I say this right – I remember Helen (college friend and blogger friend) talking about this when she lost her dad (20+ years ago, before blogging days, no links). She had a very tough time. And my point/what I remember her working through was – the process of understanding it was particularly hard for her as she was single with no kids. She said there is an actual emotional ‘thing’ that even when one doesn’t live with the parent, that the connection is still there in a much deeper way. It was sort of as if she had to accept that deeper connection and work though it. This makes a lot of sense to me. And I don’t know if it is at all helpful, but it came to mind immediately.

    The AFTER bites us in the butt on so many levels. You are wise to work through it now. Glad you posted so we know.

    • Yes, Vickie, I don’t mention it much because I’m not sure I can explain it without it sounding weird. Basically, its just that my dad remained the most constant male influence/presence in my life. See, even typing that doesn’t sound right. I don’t think it was a weird “Psycho” attachment. One of my friends that knows me very well, and knew the relationship I had with my father told me I had lost a part of myself.

      I guess that’s why this seems weird to me at times. No big sob scenes. Just a lot of sitting around sighing.

  4. Aw, I’m so sorry. I think the ladies above said it all much better than I could, so I’ll just offer you big hugs ((((((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))).

  5. Everything Shelley said is right on. And you said it yourself – some days are spot on, others even moving off the couch can be a struggle. It’s ok to just do the best you can in these circumstances you’re in. That’s perfectly OK. {{{Hugs}}}

  6. Wow – I want PJ for coffee dates and advice. Good stuff there. Sending you a hug from the East Coast. As my mom always says, “this too shall pass.”

    PS Chloe sends kisses!

  7. Grief never just progresses “normally.” It ebbs and flows. There is the tendency to want to turn to food more or not get off the couch because those are things in the past which were used as comfort. It doesn’t mean you are lazy at all.

    You have a lot of upheaval going on in your life right now, so be kind to yourself. {{hugs}}

  8. I like the comparison to fog and was reminded of Sandburg’s “The fog crept in on little cat’s feet.” Without even realizing what’s happening, suddenly it’s swirling around us and even though we know it will go away–that the sun will shine again–it’s still a bit disconcerting and uncomfortable. I actually think it’s a *good* idea to be more still and quiet during these times, to feel the emotions and eventually find the beauty in them. Continue being kind to yourself and let the healing come…

    And I have to say, thinking about nutrition, exercise, and housework in a time such as this…one out of three ain’t bad. 🙂

  9. I have lost both my parents. When I lost my Mom, I found that the grief fog would get particularly heavy either right before, during, or right after a holiday (though not all three). It’s because I wasn’t going to do, or wasn’t doing, or hadn’t done my “normal” holiday-with-Mom stuff. Sometimes the grief showed itself in my impatience with my living family members.

    I hope this information is useful, not frightening. Perhaps it can help you prepare.

    One thing I was grateful for is how, over time, memories start to organize themselves in chapters, and all the iffy or uncomfortable chapters are washed with forgiveness. That is the blessing of grief, I think.

  10. Like the other commenters, I’m glad you wrote about this, too. Something about writing is so cathartic, even when it’s acknowledging difficult feelings or not knowing what the heck we’re feeling at all. Wishing you much peace as you work your way through the fog. Grief is both universal and personal. I’m glad you’re “doing it” the way you need to.

  11. boy can I identify with the gain 20 lbs after your dad dies. that’s exactly what I did and how much I gained, in a very short period of time, too.

    your dad was sick for a while (I’m sorry, I wasn’t reading your blog much then b/c it’s when my dad was sick, too, so I don’t recall how long he was ill–but I do remember you writing about going to visit him quite a bit), and you were grieving him as he was in the process of dying. that might be why you haven’t had “the” big cry. I cried so much when my dad was sick, I think by the time he died I’d already spent a good deal of time mourning him.

    that’s why the weight gain *after* he died shocked the heck out of me. I still don’t fully understand it. probably has a lot to do with the emotions I stuffed down while he was sick, all of the sudden had to come out after he died, and when they did, all I knew to do to feel better was eat.

    your Dad was such a wonderful man and positive influence in your life. you didn’t just lose a Father–it sounds like you lost a good friend and a wise counselor, too. I guess that’s why grief is so different from one person to the next, because our relationships with our parents are so different from others’ experiences.

    I’m glad you shared about the “fog.” When I’ve been depressed, I’ve felt like I was moving through thick mud, or pressed down by 200% humidity–which is like fog, but it has a weight to it.

    the weight is an issue–believe me, I know. It just makes everything harder. But you working on what’s really going on–grief–instead of focusing only on a “diet” or the weight gain will pay off. You have to clean up all that inside stuff and understand it, so when you lose this extra weight again, it won’t come back.

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