I started “Guys Trying to Survive” because I was (am) trying to survive a loss. So, man, you may find yourself struggling, too. Your lady is gone. Death, divorce, disability, and on and on. Much in life takes away. That’s the way it is, and there’s no profit in being bitter about it. Now your loss means you’re lost. With loss, comes grief. And grief is a process…
Or rather a processor.
Grief processes a man’s heart like meat though a grinder. But you can survive. Anyway, what else are you going to do? There’s no one or where to surrender, and suicide is a frightful cop-out and frankly, dumb.
I’ve been lighthearted as we’ve cleaned out the refrigerator, made a cherry pie, built enchiladas, and tackled the grocery store. But trying to survive is a serious business. As you tend to the needs of others, don’t fail to tend to your own mental health…
Or it will tend to you.
Here’s my catharsis. It beats going to therapy. Drop me a comment and you can have your own catharsis.
The Haze of Grief
After Dona died, I went into a kind of haze, an automation of tasks needed done and a forgetfulness of days that piled onto days.
For more than a year I remembered Dona’s actual death as fresh as yesterday. The event now seems – as does much of my memory before her death – like some vividly recalled dream, some life I can’t quite lay hold of. That’s the way of the brain.
I don’t remember Thanksgiving that year but I do remember the day after when I sat down to shop Amazon for Christmas, racking my mind for how Dona made a list for each person. So I got out some index cards and went to work. I don’t remember Christmas itself. I sure don’t remember New Year’s. Yippee.
I think I woke up some time in February.
The Denial of Grief
I kept waiting for Dona to walk in and for us to get on with our lives.
She never did.
I’d dream about her, good dreams because I’d have her presence if just for a moment. In one dream the kitchen was a mess. I didn’t care, because there she was. She looked really good. I told her I was so glad to have her back and healthy.
Then I stopped and said, “Wait, you’re not back, are you? This is a dream, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is,” said she.
And I woke up.
The Chasm of Grief
The first night after her passing, I could barely sleep. As time went on, I slept, but sometimes I’d wake up in a cold panic. Death does that to humans, stalks them with fear. Nighttime is not a good time to deal with emotions. I’d tell myself to go back to sleep.
I didn’t want to go to bed at night and I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I’d look at the bed and sigh whether I was getting in it or out of it. This passed… slowly.
Why is night difficult in loss? Because night is a dark and lonely time and grief is a black, wailing chasm.
My mind would shut the door to all the limitless grief and allow it open only in short bursts. Sometimes I couldn’t open the door even if I wanted to. Sometimes I couldn’t get it shut.
I found odd ‘keys’ to open the grief door. A song, a movie, a memory, a time of year, the door would fly open, the black chasm gaping.
The Anger of Grief
They say anger is a part of grief. Anger at the one who died. Anger at God. Anger at self. Simply plain anger.
I felt secure enough to be able to tell Jesus if I didn’t think things were fair. I mean, He knows how I feel whether I tell Him or not. Might as well go ahead and yell or cry or stutter around. Suffering is going to be had in this life. He’s quite aware of that Himself.
I wasn’t angry at Dona. She herself had felt her body had betrayed her. I was wondering though how to raise the kids alone.
Though I might have dodged overt anger, I did slip into a period where I had a very short fuse. It’s not that men have long fuses to begin with. But I found myself angry at the least little thing. Then it would pass.
Weird. But that’s grief.
The Acceptance of Grief
Acceptance. The last part of grief. Hmm…
You don’t ever get over a loss. Time does not heal all wounds. It scars them. I lost my father when I was young. I’m not ‘over’ that; it became part of me. I’m not ‘over’ Dona’s death, but things are not quite so black now. But the grief is a part of me. I want it to be so. The things and events we survive come into the sum of who we are.
And that is for the good.
The process is unavoidable. I only pray the man I discover myself to be on the other side of grief is a better and stronger man that the one who went in.
I pray that for you, too.