My cousin texted me yesterday to tell me her estranged brother had died suddenly of a heart attack. I gave her my love and condolences but that of course got me to thinking about grief and how it comes in all different shades and sizes. Grief is not the same for everyone.
I have experience many kinds of grief. When my cat, Precious, died while I was at Governor’s School, I thought I was devastated. She was my furry therapist and it felt so unfair that I did not get to say goodbye. Little did I know the pain I felt was minuscule compared to what lay ahead.
When my Korean grandmother died it was the first time I had seen my Mother mourn. Even though they did not get along she was grief stricken. I felt as if a part of me died with my grandmother – she was such a strong supporter in my life. My grandmother’s death was shocking and left me feeling alone. She now has nearly sainthood status in my heart.
While I was in college one of my former high school mates committed suicide and even though I had not seen him in years it pained me greatly to think he had been in such a dark place. That was kind of a guilty grief. Could I have done anything to help him? Was I a bad friend for losing touch?
One of my best friends died in a tragic car accident when I was nearly done with college. That one was a doozy. We were friends in high school and we were very close in college. He went for a drive after a nasty break up and never returned. He left me a voice mail message saying he would stop by after. I still miss Laurence and think of him often. He was an amazing human.
I observed many people grieving in my adulthood but most of them were people I sort of knew – my boyfriend’s grandmother, my friend’s sibling, etc. I had empathy and was appropriately sad but they were removed enough to not cause me much stress. I was more upset for my boyfriend and friend than myself.
Even when my mother died, it was more relief than grief. We had a complicated relationship and while I was sad to see my father, sister and children in so much pain, I was able to muster through it all without too much sadness. I grieved more about what could have been instead of losing a parent.
When daddy died though. Wow – I have never known such intense emotion. The grief was a heavy lead blanket on my heart and it took ages to feel “normal” again. It will be two years this November and I have not been able to bear going to the mausoleum. I visited a few times while we were selling his house but once that was sold it did not feel like there was a home to go back to. So, I just kept avoiding it.
I finally feel strong enough so on Veteran’s Day one of my besties will travel with me and I’ll do a day trip back to Ashe County. I will not go by his house – I know it will be unrecognizable and I don’t want to put myself through that. I will go to the mausoleum and just allow myself to feel whatever comes over me. I don’t really need to be where his body is to feel close to him. I have his flag, photo and a candle on my mantle that helps me to connect to him when I need it. However, I feel a need to go on this trip for whatever reason I can’t quite put my finger on. I think it will be a good healing experience on my road to recovery from this deep grief.