Saturday, April 6, 2013

Grief: Why Bother?

My bedroom is much too comfortable.  It's painted black.  There is burnt out velvet covering the window so there is never any natural light.  There is a TV.  My sheets are soft and cosy.  Artie's Yankee jacket is on the bed.  My craziest bit is that the plastic bag filled with his ashes is in a Donna Karan pillow sham on a pillow next to my pillow.  I have never opened the plastic bag because I am klutzy and don't want to risk spilling him.  I also know that the bag contents are not him.  It's why they call them human remains.  While I may bask in what I believe to be his otherworldly presence and in memory - the ashes are all I have left of his physical being.  But really?  A Donna Karan pillow sham?   I thought I was going to keep the ashes in a wooden box that my woodworker daughter was going to craft.  I tell you this so that you know we all have our own ways of dealing with death and as crazy as some of them seem they are in the realm of grief quite normal.

On an inactive day my bedroom has great magnetic powers.  It will not let me go.  That of course is totally untrue.  I will not let me go.  It is my inertia room.  It is my why bother? room.

The problem is if I spend too much time there I don't feel good about myself.  I don't think it matters much in the course of the entire universe what i do - but it matters to me.  It matters to me if I decide to make it matter to me.  It matters to the people who love me and to the people I make laugh or help or have fun with.  It matters to me.  That's what I have to keep reminding myself.  It matters to me to be someone I enjoy being.  I can feel sorry for myself, I can be lonely, I can be sad.  However if I never bother I am wasting myself.  Artie wouldn't want me to do that.  I don't really want to do that - at least not every day.

So...I show up.  What happens when you show up?  I had the amazing experience on Thursday of getting to spend an hour with the Duchess of York.  I had to sign a confidentiality agreement but she said I could mention her in my blog.  Me?  How did that happen to me?  It was through a charity - but it was also through putting myself in certain places and being willing to ask the question.  I can tell you that she is very direct, honest, and loving.  Direct.  She asked me if I was lonely.  She asked me what my goals were.  She acknowledged immediately that living without someone you love is so difficult.  Honest.  She talked about the negative voices in our head.  Said we are like a beautiful house and the voices are squatters that come in to live in our house.  We have to evict them.  But they come back.  So we have to evict them again.  She said in her darkest moments she came to a point where she realized she must have a very bright light if circumstances were working so hard to extinguish it.  Loving.  She gave me time out of her busy schedule and when I left gave me a big hug.  The point for me is that it doesn't matter if you are royalty or just and average person - you face the same challenges.  You face the same choices.  Of course she has resources I don't.  That doesn't mean I can't use the resources I have to better advantage.

I would like to say I was so inspired the next day I accomplished great things.  I went back to my old pattern of finding feeling great stressful.  My bedroom won.  Today I made an appointment so I have to leave the bedroom and go out into the world.  I feel better.  I'm writing this blog post.  I answered e-mails.  I reached out to people.

Each of you has to find your own answer to "Why bother?" but I believe that each of you has that answer.  Everyone has the ability to create meaning in their life.  Sometimes meaning, purpose, motivation are slippery.  You feel you have them firmly in your hands and then like a greased pig they all slip away and you are holding emptiness again.  There's nothing wrong with that.  It's what you do afterwards.  How long do you let yourself stay in "Why Bother?"?

I read an Oscar Wilde quote that said something like Instead of thinking of all the things you want that you didn't get, why not think of all the things you didn't want that you didn't get.  It made me laugh.  My loving Artie space and missing him - and all my other friends who are dead too soon for me - will always be - I think - a little prickly.  No one will ever take Artie's place.  Sometimes I will fall into the place where the whole crowded world seems empty because he is no longer here.  The important thing is that I crawl out again and see what there is to be done.

I wish I could learn to keep commitments to myself as well as I do to other people.  I have made a good life for myself.  At 62 I am still learning.  Goodness gracious,  I never imagined in my wildest dreams sitting having a conversation with the Duchess of York and feeling like I was talking to an old friend.  As wild and wonderful as that was it isn't better than sitting on the floor playing with my granddaughter.  Gwendy has learned how to kiss and when I was holding her she just gave me a big smack on my lips.  Hooray for that.

Maybe that's it.  There are a lot of things to boo - and a lot of boo hoos.  The answer to Why Bother? is that we need a lot of Hoorays!! to balance them out.  May you have at least one Hooray! in your life today.  If not today - maybe tomorrow.  You know how.  If you are grieving for a person or a pet you have great love for - you have a lot of Hoorays! in your past - all they need to do is leap frog into your present and your future.  xo

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