Sunday, June 23, 2013

Grief: Do I Look Like I'm Falling Apart?

Do I look like I'm falling apart?  No.  When you see me out in the world I usually look pretty normal.  I laugh and I carry on intelligent conversations.  If you are a good friend you know some of the damage missing Artie every minute of every day does to me because I talk about it.  Maybe you don't really understand it because I don't usually get tears in my eyes any more.  I joke about it.  When I was out with a group of women friends and there was a question of how late we would stay in a restaurant I said, "I'm good with any time.  Artie's ashes don't care what time I get home."  See, I almost said my ashes.  They're his ashes - not mine.  One friend said something lovely, "Maybe they do."

If you live with me for a time - for example, if you share a hotel room with me or when I stay at my daughter's house - then you see more.  I need time to myself.  I still don't do a whole day and night very well.  I need time to just stop and hurt and regroup.  I'm irritable.  If I'm with you all the time I'm not going to be able to hide that part.  I'm honest about it.  I always say I'm not easy to be with.  Grief has a throbbing pounding accumulation as the days go by.  Someone asked me on the first anniversary of his 36 year old son's death, "Does it get easier?"  I said, "It gets different."

Am I falling apart?  Do I do myself a disservice by only describing myself to myself in terms of the bits that don't work well instead of those that do?  I still have a terrible time getting up in the morning.  I have trouble sleeping.  I watch too much TV.  My body aches from not being held.  I feel like I haven't physically or psychologically relaxed - no matter how comfortable my apartment is - for almost four years.  I still bang my head because I'm not paying attention.  I just did that.  I still put my clothes on backwards.  I still have that, "Why bother?"

Do you remember the questions, Who else are you?,  What else do you do?  That's the part I don't honor enough.  That same group of women I was with love me.  They think I'm amazing.  A lot of people do.  I haven't written a book - but I write this blog.  I'm involved in a lot of different projects.  I'm a good grandmother.  I pay my bills on time.  I make people laugh.

I finally asked someone to be my food coach.  I'm tired of looking in the mirror and seeing the way I look.  I'm not going to get younger but I could get fitter.  I would feel better.

At 62, I'm still a work in progress.  That's a good thing.  I want Artie to be a part of that.  Maybe he is.

How many of us look at what we haven't done instead of what we have.  I have the same experience with friends.  I think they are amazing.  I think they accomplish more than I do.  They are looking at what they haven't done.

I don't know where this all leads.  I know that Artie - through his work in Alcoholics Anonymous - saved a lot of lives.  I know that he felt like a failure. It didn't matter what I said.  Then when he was dying we left the front door unlocked from 10 am to 10 pm and a lot of people dropped by to tell him they loved him and to thank him for the ways in which he had helped them.  It took him until those last two weeks of his long life to say to me - and to believe, "I really did do some good in this world.  People really do love me."  I was so happy he finally got it.  I said, "Of course."  Everyone knew it except him.

Maybe that's the task.  Don't wait until the last two weeks of your life to look around and find the people who love you  Don't wait until the last two weeks of your life to look around and pay attention to the things you do instead of the things you don't do.

Part of holding both sides - is having both sides.  Have the grieving part; the missing part; the lonely part but don't forget to find ways to have the alive, happy, meaningful, joyful part.  When you have those parts - don't forget to pay attention to them and give them weight.

Sometimes the alive parts feel hollow.  Especially in the silence.  They usually don't feel hollow when you are living them.  It's only afterwards when you want to share them and the person you want to share them with isn't alive.

I found out something interesting about taking a shower.  It feels good to have the hot water running on my body.  It's a good time to think.  It's nice to feel clean.  Just for me.  Not for anyone else.  That's a simple thing but it took me a long time to get there.

The fourth anniversary of Artie's death is July 17th.  Part of me feels like I can't go on with out him another day.  Another part of me is having a heck of a good time.  I want to die today and be reunited with the man I love.  I want to live a long time and watch my granddaughter grow up and have new experiences.  Both.

I usually try to tie these posts up in a nice little something or other.  Why?  I want to give you a way to not fall apart but maybe that's not the answer.  Life itself is a falling apart.  It's what I do with the falling apart bits and the not falling apart bits that make a difference.

Another Sunday without Artie.  I hope I make it one with happy moments.  xo


  1. Jan, I want you to know that I often come to your blog for solace. I can't explain how it helps, but it does. I guess it's because I share many of your thoughts and feelings. I've only just lost the love of my life in May, and I am twisting in the wind without him. Peace to you, Jan. And thank you.

  2. I lost my mother 16 years ago when I was 14 & the first couple of years is the hardest. You don't get over losing a loved one but you do learn how to cope with your lose though. I also lost an aunt I was close to 3 years after my mother died & It was hard too. But again I learned how to cope with it after another few years passed, you just get on with it as best you can. Everyone grieves differently though & hope you have the strength to keep going too because 4 years is not that long.