Sunday, January 30, 2011

Grief: The Freedom to Feel

This wasn't what I was going to write but I woke up this morning with a painful stomach ache.  Had a lovely physician's assistant that I know make a house call.  It's just gastritis.  What I had with it was FEAR.  It is so hard to be sick without Artie.  I could have called a friend but it's Sunday.  It's so different not being able to say simply, "Honey, I don't feel well.  What should I do?"  If I had needed to go to the hospital - the same thing.  That one person whose life I was first in is gone.  I know my friends wouldn't feel bad if I asked them for help.  This physician's assistant has treated me before.  As soon as she was here I felt better - my stomach still hurt but I knew I was safe.  I didn't know I was going to write that.  Without Artie I never feel entirely safe.  I'm not in any danger - but emotionally - my comfort is gone.  My go to guy is gone to "beyond" or wherever.  I live very comfortable and am lucky and grateful for that - but all the comfort in the world can't make up for that feeling of comfort, happiness, and safety I always had when he held me.

I'm sorry I'm not writing more often.  Coming up to Thursday which is my 60th birthday but also would have been my 15th wedding anniversay.  Artie and I would have been together 25 years.  A quarter of a century.  I'm trying to deal with it well. Making plans, doing things.  It works only occassionally.  I'm exhausted a lot.  I'm not surprised I got sick.  All those DATES.  The dates we should be sharing with those we love - and we can - but not in that phsyical - get back in your body Artie - way. 

A stranger messaged me on Facebook and said she was a life coach and she could help me with my depression.  I understand marketing but I felt that was very intrusive.  Sometimes I post on different sites if I think I can be of help - and I do put the tagline so people can check out the blog if they want.  I told her I am not depressed - I am grieving.  Then she messaged me back telling me what grief was and how she could help.  I turned into the Queen of being snarky - but I couldn't believe the nerve of a stranger telling ME what grief was.  I also couldn't believe that she assumed I didn't have friends, family, a bereavement group, a therapist when I need one and I needed a stranger to explain grief to me.  I told her that maybe I could help her with her issues; like setting boundaries - and that if she is going to be a life coach she needs to have the basic knowledge that you ask people what they want to accomplish and don't assume anything.  I have a Masters in Counseling degree and although I don't work as a therapist any more - I did work in child abuse prevention and suicide prevention - I have gotten back into learning about NLP and Neo- Ericksonian hynosis - because it is fun.  She, of course, wrote "I'm sorry for your loss."  I hate that phrase but from someone who knows me - even from FB or the blog I accept it as an attempt at kindness - but from someone trying to market her services I thought it was incredibly insensitive.  I asked her how sorry she actually was - did her throat close up - did she cry?  I also pointed out that I didn't lose Artie - he's not keys or a pair of glasses.  He died.  I don't think I'll be hearing from her again.  I never mind people sharing resources but I was outraged that someone would try to exploit MY grief, MY pain for their own financial gain.

Which brings me to what I wa going to write about before I got sick.  This is my personal opinion.  Grieving and depression are two different things.  Grief can cause depression and if you feel better with anti-depressants that's fine.  However if someone you love dies you are supposed to feel sad.  It's not bad to cry.  It's not bad to spend some time losing your ability to navigate in the world.  That's why I call this blog Stop Thief: Don't Steal My Grief.  There are times when I'm depressed (which is not the same as having depression which needs to be treated) but most of the time I'm grieving.  I always encourage people to do whatever will make them feel better - part of which is - at some point - figuring out how to create a new kind of life for yourself.  However, as I do that - I don't mind stumbling.  I don't mind not being "happy" all the time.  Good gracious.  Valentine's day with all those darn hearts every where I look.  Sometimes I can see them and think how lucky I am to have this wonderful love and I can come home and read the all the loving notes Artie wrote me over the years and feel happy.  I have the last Valentine's Day card he wrote me framed with one of his pictures.  Sometimes, though I feel anger or sadness - or simply today I'm not moving.  Tomorrow I'll accomplish something - but not today. 

There is a lot of pain caused by the misunderstanding of grief and the lack of support for a person's right to grieve in this culture.  That's why even though I'm a more solitary kind of person I have found the community of grieving people so helpful.  When Artie first died I thought I had gone crazy.  I'm not crazy.  Greif manifests itself in many ways.  Some of them strange - like how I always used to put my clothes on backwards for a couple of months after he died.  I mean, I've been dressing myself for a long time now!   Some of them difficult and painful.  Sometimes the most simple task becomes impossible.  Human beings come with a full component of emotions.  Sure, it's nice to spend more time being happy than sad.  That's why I do all the things I do - to try to increase my moments of joy.  But to think of sadness, anger, fear etc... as "negative" emotions is like saying why don't we have a rainbow that's purple and red and leave out all the other colors.  It wouldn't be a rainbow any more.  There is a real disease called depression.  If you have that you should get treatment for it the way you would get treatment if you broke your arm.  On the other hand, it is a disease that some professionals are way to eager to diagnose.  It's okay to trust your own judgment.  Someone you love very much died.  That's a real life event with real life consequences. 

I'm supposed to go to Los Angeles tomorrow to spend a couple of days with my daughter.  Hopefully I'll be feeling better by then.  It's beautiful outside my window with all the snow.  Hope you found something beautiful to notice today.  If not...maybe tomorrow.  xo

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