Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grief: Am I Still Alive?

Yes.  I am still alive. I have been using the slightly out of whack coping technique of doing a lot, crashing, doing a lot, crashing and more crashing.  By crashing I mean laying in bed and sleeping or watching DVDs.  I'm sorry I skipped writing blog posts during this process.  Closing on a new apartment and now owning a new apartment is frightening without Artie.  It's odd to me how independent I thought I was while he was alive.  I wasn't.  I did a lot of things on my own but I took it for granted that he was there for me to come home to: waiting for me, loving me.  I fought with him sometimes when he tried to protect me, but how I miss his protections.  I made some mistakes in not checking things before I bought the apartment.  He wouldn't have let that happen.  The good part is that I am showing up for most things, the bad part is that I feel all the time as though I am living on my last nerve and that is badly frayed.

I am writing you from London.  The last time I was here I talked about Queen Victoria and how she never recovered from the death of her husband Prince Albert.  I realized today that there are a lot of people that are waiting for the old Jan to come back.  It's been over three years now, surely the old Jan will be back soon.  I am still alive.  The old Jan isn't.  She isn't coming back.  I try to explain that to people.  I'm not better, I never will be better.  I can have great,  happy moments but I won't be the person I was when Artie was alive.  It hurts too much.  A lot of effort goes into my being me and doing what I do.  I don't have a lot of energy left for the kind of caretaking I did of other people while Artie was alive.  The people who understand that stay close.  I am very lucky that my daughter understands that her mother is wounded in a particular kind of way.  If I had lost a leg I would still be me but I would have certain limitations.  I would never get that leg back.  That's how I feel about Artie's death.  I'm still me but I have limitations I didn't have before.  That may not be true of every grieving person; but it is true of me.

I have friction with some old friends who don't understand that.  I have fight with people who still expect me to plan everything and figure everything out and I don't want to any more. I need more support now from people than I did before.  Artie was my life line, my support.  If I fell apart I could fall into his arms and it would be okay.  Falling into my own arms isn't the same!   My daughter gets it because she misses her dog Stonewall so much.  She has given me empathy for people whose pets have died.  It doesn't hurt them any less than having Artie die hurts me.  I respect all kinds of grieving, and all ways of moving through it.

My sense of humor helps a lot.  (I'm on a British computer which is telling me I am not spelling humor right - it should be humour.)  :)  When I was standing on line at the airport they made the announcement about boarding people with disabilities and people with small children first.  I said to my friend, "What about cranky pants?  Shouldn't they board grouchy people first?"  The man in front of me who looked very nice, handsome, and sane said, "Yes!  They should definitely board tired, grouchy people first.  I would wear a big button that says Cranky Pants."  So... I am starting the Royal Order of Cranky Pants. After all, everyone who believes in acceptance and that it is all good and everything happens for a reason should be delighted to board last.

I have to remember that I am alive.  I have to learn to focus on the wonderful moments and the wonderful people.  I get lost in my unhappiness sometimes.  My granddaughter  (with apologies to people who have had children and grandchildren die - it is okay if you hate my writing about her) Gwendy is my biggest helper in that.  She is nine months old now and when she looks at me with her big blue eyes and smiles because she knows I love her and I'm silly and she's safe - that's the one moment when I feel it's maybe okay to still be alive.  Which is a lie.  There are lots of moments when I feel it's okay to be alive, when I forget that I am sad and lonely.  So, we must help each other pay more attention to the happy, living moments.  We must create them, hold them, treasure them as much as we do the moments when the ones we love were still alive.

I've avoided writing a blog post for too long.  Here I am, at a computer terminal in the lobby of a hotel in London, making time to write.  Guess what, I feel better.  Make time today to do something that makes you feel better.  I think - and act - like lying down and not doing anything make me feel better.  Sometimes it does - but a lot more times taking action - showing up - doing something - is what really makes me feel better.  Artie's smiling.  He knows that now.  I hope some of you are smiling too.

We ARE still alive.  What are we going to make alive look like?  I was such a cranky pants when I started to write this - and I will be again - but maybe - just maybe - I will put some more happy moments into the rest of my day.  xo

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