Friday, August 23, 2013

Grief: Exhaustion: Like Water Wearing Away A Stone

People do grieve differently.  I grieve differently for different people.  My parents were not good parents.  The details aren't necessary - they have been dead for a long time.  I didn't grieve for them.  I was, as honest as this is, rather relieved when they died.  I always tried to be loving to them but it was never easy.  With my mother I felt badly because, as difficult a mother as she was, she was a wonderful grandmother.  I will always miss my friend Judy who fought a brave battle with cancer.  She had the warmest heart.  She would see someone I wouldn't notice, someone sweeping the street or handling garbage, and she would stop to talk to them to ask them how they were doing.  She always had a big smile for everyone.  I wanted to call her in April to arrange a time to get together.  She died in March. I hope she forgives me since I knew better.  You can't wait.  Death isn't a respecter of human schedules.  However a good and loving friend Judy was, I don't grieve for her the way I grieve for Artie.

There are some people who play such a central role in our lives that the emptiness and pain their death leaves is something that cannot be fully expressed.  People who have not had that kind of grief get confused.  They don't understand what it is like.  I didn't understand until my husband died.  He was older than I was (is he still?).  I thought when he died I would be very sad and miss him a lot.  I didn't know that I would feel so broken and desperate.  I didn't know that I would begin this life of finding out who I am without him.  I didn't know it would be so unending and difficult - and still - in many ways rewarding.  We were grateful for each other while he was alive.  There were also lots of things I didn't appreciate until I no longer had them.

A dear friend whose only child, a wonderful son, died told me that she had a meltdown in the 5th year. I am sad that she went through that but it helps that she told me about it.  People who think you should be over it by now don't understand the exhaustion factor.  It tires me out waking up every morning and knowing once again Artie is dead.  It wears on me every day having things happen that I want, need to share with him and am unable to in the old way.  I can talk to him about them, and I do, but I can't hear his voice.  My body misses all the hugs and kisses and back scratches.  Because my parents were not nurturing Artie was the first person who took care of me.  I was the first person who took care of him.  We talked about that.  I have a lot of love in my life.  I am lucky.  That is not the same as having one person to whom I am the center.  We got a kick out of saying we were each other's raison d'être (reason for being).  I look into a lot of beautiful eyes.  It tires me out that I no longer look into eyes that adore me.  For a long time Artie was frightened of the intimacy of that kind of eye contact.  He would look away.  So, when he delighted in our gazing in each other's eyes, the love flowing back and forward was a kind of triumph.

Whether it's a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a child, a sibling, a friend, an animal, (who have I left out) there are people who are so special in our lives it is hard to miss them day after day after day.  It is that peculiar kind of loneliness that exists even in the most crowded room.

I am doing what I write about.  I am showing up.  I have had some very happy times in the past weeks. I am going to stay with a friend in her beach house.  I had a friend stay with me.  I am going to be with my daughter and granddaughter.  It's when I'm alone.  I'm spending too much time sleeping and watching TV.  I want to escape this feeling of exhaustion.

I'm being productive.  My Facebook page Grief Speaks Out has almost 38,000 likes from all around the world.  I am proud of that and a little amazed.  I'm also comforted that all around the world grief is a common language.  As much as I may feel alone, I am part of that very special community of grief warriors.  I post something every morning at around 7 a.m..  I shut down the voice that says, "Why bother?" but then it comes back later and I don't want to do things.  I make a joke of it and say I have excellent procrastination skills.  The truth is I am tired of Artie being dead.  I can't change it. I accept it. Yet, I am just tired.

I meant to write this blog post earlier.  I like to write once a week.  I didn't.  I was pleased with myself that I always paid my bills on  time, even at the beginning.  I've missed a couple.  Some days I feel confused.

I have been eating healthy on a lot of days but some times I still dive into the ice cream and cookies as if they somehow replace my husband's love.  They don't.  They add to the exhaustion but unhealthy eating and sleep are an escape.

I am tired of holding a Yankee jacket and patting ashes.  I am grateful I am loved and that I love.  I see how far I have come, how alive with grief I am.  But I am tired.  I want to be alive for all I will experience.  I want to be alive for all I have to share.  At the same time I want to be with my husband.  I am tired of not being able to be with my husband.

The metaphor is water wearing away a stone.  It's not that simple though.  That water can wear away a stone  shows how constant pressure can make even the strongest material disintegrate.  On the other hand, water wearing away a stone polishes it.  It makes it smooth and shiny.  It reshapes it.  In California there is a place called Moonstone Beach.  The ocean has made the stones that lie on it beautiful.  They are like jewels.  I have learned that each moment of grief has its own time.  My exhaustion will pass, my strength will regather.  At least I am looking at what I am doing as well as what I am not doing.  I am making sure that I do not stop having happy moments.  I can't make the water stop - but I can admire what I have become with this wearing away.

I am sorry that I took so long to write to you all again.  I hope that in the places where you feel worn out and exhausted you can also see new and glorious shapes and textures emerging.  They are there if you open your eyes to them when you wake up from your nap.  xo

1 comment:

  1. can you be so PERCEPTIVE to how I feel after two and 1/4 years.......just tired. I was talking to myself today asking if this was depression. Like you, I get up and go is not the same. And I read somewhere on your facebook page a quote..."you will know death when it comes for someone you love'. We all lose alot of folks but there is one that just won't let go.

    Keep up the good work! K