MEASURES OF GRIEF

If there is one thing you need to know about me….…I am THE Master of detachment…..detach them horrid, painful, pity party thoughts that I know will hurt me…I have superpowers of suppression…..I am…… THE SUPER SUPPRESSOR!!!

I have absolutely no doubt that every psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, psychotherapist and psychologist  around  the world would be able to write a 450 000 page thesis on how disastrous the long term effects of this type of behaviour is, but let me tell you people….it has worked wonders for me!!

‘’Yes, but look at you???” you all point out simultaneously.

Well to all of you, I say…..imagine the alternative?????

Unfortunately, I was unable to implement my superpowers when my husband died….first time ever….not sure exactly why. I suppose despite the obvious shock and horror of it all, I think I was just enveloped by it in my daily life. It just could not be suppressed, and let me tell you something…..it has not been pretty!!

After I lost my husband, every person and their aunty insisted I go for counseling.

‘’Nope, not gonna’’, I insisted. ‘’I have amazing friends who provide better counseling than I could get from any stranger,” I insisted. Sure, they did not lose their other half, but at the very least, they knew me, they knew my children and they knew my life……kinda.

‘’But you need to deal with your emotions’’, they argued.

‘’Nope…don’t……why?’’

‘’So you can get over it and move on,’’ they would continue, knowing they were treading a very dangerous path.

‘’GET OVER IT??? MOVE ON???? This was not a break up!! This was not a dispute with someone!! This was not road rage!! MY HUSBAND IS GONE…MY CHILDREN’S FATHER…..GONE…..…FOREVER……HOW CAN I GET OVER IT????????’’ I screamed…..extra loud….as they really should have bloody known better…..blithering nincompoops!!!

So thanks to my husband (which I will be sure to bring to his attention in my next lambasting with him), I have become very……let me say….. ‘’selfish’’….. about whom I mourn for, and the intensity of the grief I allow myself to endure. It is not really fair on others, as a loss is a loss, but I have realized that I now have a checklist which I subconsciously use as a “mourning meter”.

As inconceivable, unsympathetic and unemotional as this may sound (even in my own head), this is what it is. The thought of going through all that unnecessary human emotion again, is unbearable!!

I was very fortunate not to have suffered much loss growing up. I even recall being grateful for it at the time, as I compared myself to friends, most of whom had lost at least one grandparent. I still had all four! My first real loss was my paternal grandfather, when I was around 11 years old. In retrospect an untimely death, but at the time the shock and the grief seemed relatively ‘’ gentle’’. I assume when you are that age, and it is a grandparent, it is not totally unexpected.

My first totally unexpected loss was my father in law, who died so suddenly and so unexpectedly, that the degree of grief was far greater. I was older, he was younger, and it did not make any sense.

After that, I eventually lost my three other grandparents, but again, it was their time, and they had all outlived their lives…..if that makes sense?

In the last few years, I lost both my parents. I have not yet written a blog about either of my parents, as although they passed away a few years ago, I had not yet gone through the official mourning process….. my powers of suppression had successfully kicked in. When one writes about something, one is forced to deal with it, and clearly one did not feel ready to do deal with it, so one did not write about it!

Of course it was an incredible loss, but a relief too……’’bitter sweet’’ if you will. This sounds so awfully unsympathetic and unemotional (dammit….maybe I am just unsympathetic…….and unemotional), but unfortunately, both my parents suffered for a few years (in totally different ways), before they passed. As a child, it is so difficult to see your parents suffer. Towards the end, especially with my dad, whose suffering was greater, I found myself praying for him to be put out of his misery.

During Lockdown, maybe because of the amount of time I had with my thoughts, such thoughts which I had consciously avoided for the last fifteen years, I suddenly started remembering my parents before their mental and physical health started to decline.

Until then, I could only remember them as they had been, for so long, before they had passed away. It is unfortunately the only way I managed to remember them for a long time. This is so terribly sad, as they were with us for over 80 years, did so much, were so much, and yet that is how I remembered them. It just doesn’t seem fair!! No person would choose to be remembered like that. Least of all my mom, who I vividly recall for the better part of my life, insisted she did not want her children or loved ones remembering her suffering or ill.

So….suppressed my thoughts….. lockdown arrived…….forced to be with my thoughts……..and the memories of my parents in their better years started to come back to me. Then began a period of ‘’gentle’’ grieving, racked with guilt that I did not mourn the loss of easily the most influential people in my life earlier. They gave me life, they sacrificed for me, they laughed with me, cried with me, mourned with me…could I not have at the very least have rated them right up there on the mourning meter??

I went from being so hard on myself, being disgusted at and disliking myself, wondering how I could not have totally broken down into a puddle of grief when my parents died, to being easier on myself, telling myself that what I was feeling before, and what I was feeling then, was totally normal…..oh, and then back to feeling like a monster again.

So, although I have nowhere near mourned the loss of my parents yet, I do feel that I have respectfully acknowledged their loss, and I do believe that I have a duty to start forgetting how they died, and start remembering how they lived……just not quite ready for that pain yet…..

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