Sunday, December 26, 2010

Grief: Dealing with Folks That Don't Get It

I don't know how.  It seems only grieving people understand that grief has changed us and that grief can go on for many many years. I know people who have had people they love die 20 or more years ago and they still miss them and grieve for them. When Artie first died I developed a line I thought would work, "I'm okay with not being okay."  After three weeks a very lovely woman asked me, "Still?"  We all have stories.  A woman I was friends with for over thirty years dropped out of my life.  One of Artie's friends (not any more!) when I asked him why he didn't come to the Celebration of Artie's Life because everyone was asking me said, "I was his friend not yours."  One of Artie's sons (a step son of course - but he was grown when I met Artie) started screaming horrible things at me around the first anniversary of Artie's death.  I don't mind being criticized - I'm certainly not perfect - but I don't want to be shrieked at for things that have nothing to do with me.  In his case I had to cut him off.  I was too hurt to handle any additional hurt.  I am lucky that some of Artie's friends have stayed in contact with me.  I am grateful for that - for the occassional - how are you doing?  I am very lucky that I have friends I can say anything to. I started the grief blog and the facebook page as a place to express my feelings and also to open myself up to sharing with anyone who wants to.

I don't know if either of these two women read the blog - if they see this and are hurt by it - I apologize.  One woman e-mailed me and poured out her heart about her pain and loneliness being without her husband.  I shared some of my feelings with her.  Then she e-mailed me that she wasn't strong enough to support me and was regressing and didn't want me to contact her anymore.  I had never asked her to support me and I had not contacted her.  She contacted me. I had to work with it - because it felt like a rejection and I didn't want it to hurt.  It did but I was able to let it go.  Yesterday when I was using Christmas to work mostly on self healing someone who had initially contacted me because of a loss spent lines and lines of words defending political views I don't agree with.  I am trying to hold people where they are and be especially gentle with those who are dealing with the death of a loved one but I could not understand how she filtered out everything I said that tried to steer her back into what the meaning of the day was supposed to be.  I couldn't understand why - when she knew I was grieving - she would think I would want to argue politics with her. 

Those were strangers.  It is so much harder with friends and loved ones.  They want us to be happy and to be over it.  One very gentle man a few months ago said I had crossed the threshhold and didn't know it yet.  I actually got physically ill.  I was ignorant about grief until Artie died.  One friend asked me if I was different now.  I appreciated that.  I told her all the ways in which I was not the same person I was since Artie died.  She wasn't frustrated with me or trying to cheer me up - honestly wanted to know how I felt.  Another friend told me that she respected how brave I was with all the emotional pain I had gone through this past year and a half.  It felt good to be understood.  I have also been lucky in getting support from people I have never met but who have become friends through cyberspace.

I wish people could understand how difficult this is for us and respect that.  It doesn't prevent us from laughing and being fun and enjoying life.  I think what I wish is that when I am having a good time people wouldn't assume that means I'm over my grief and I don't miss Artie anymore.  It is possible to be sad and happy at the same time.  It is possible to be laughing out loud and thinking how much I wish he was here with me.

I guess I deal with it the way I am trying to deal with the grief itself.  Not to hold on so much.  To feel what I am feeling and then go on to do something else.  I keep saying tapes instead of CDs because I am OLD :)  but I did listen to a lot yesterday.  I hope to listen to one or two every day.  I am going to continue with counseling and blogging and visiting grief sites.  I hope to start eating better and going back to the gym.  I hope that someone can figure out what this pain in my side is.  It hurts a little less but I'm afraid if I start exercising again  it will hurt more.  I don't know if I can forgive people who are hurtful.  Forgiveness has always been difficult for me.  Artie had an expression, "Don't let them live rent free in your head."  That's the best thing I can do.  Stay close to those who understand and are loving and when I have my feelings hurt - let it go and don't let it swirl around in my head over and over again.

I got a theater ticket for a matinee to get me out of the house.  It is fairly quiet for me until my New Year's Eve "Widow Warner takes back the night".  I want to keep working on doing what strengthens me which includes taking care of myself - and where I live.  Artie will always be my home.  I long for that home. Earth is my home too for now.  I'm going try to emulate the grief warriors who have time to both cry and find great joy.  It's too easy to stay in bed.  I hope in January I will meet the challenges of my life with increasing energy and not so much struggle.  It's very grey here in NYC but no snow yet.  I'm going to try to make it colorful in my heart.  xo

PS  The picture of Artie and me is from my 40th birthday.  It's up because I finally took the scanner out of the box and connected it to the computer.  Hooray for me!

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