The ugly side of grief

Grief if not pretty.  Grief is actually quite ugly.  Some view me as strong.  Some view me as delicate.   But the truth is I am neither strong or delicate yet I am both strong and delicate at the same time.  I always joke that I am a girl of many contradictions as I am part city girl, part country girl.  The analogy fits here as well.

Grief is hard.  It’s hard to go to bed alone.  It’s hard to deal with the moments of shock where you wonder why all of this had to happen.  It’s been 8 months since Bryon died and over a year (13 months) since Bryon got sick and I am still hit with those moments.  But one of the hardest parts of grief is all the emotions.  Grief makes you feel every emotion there is; sadness, anger, frustration, helplessness, desperation.  It is like each emotion is it’s own bright, vibrant color and I am that cup of disgusting water that you dip your paintbrush into.  All those bright colors have turned my cup of clear water into a disgusting murky shade of greenish brown.

I have always been someone who has struggled with expressing my negative emotions.  I usually say nothing and I let frustration build until it turns into a completely different emotion and then the volcano erupts and it is usually over something minor and stupid. And once that volcano erupts, there is so stopping and tt is not fair to the people that stand in line of that volcano.  It’s not fair to take your negative emotions out on people.  People shouldn’t have to deal with Mt. McKim.

Grief is exhausting.  I joke with my friends that grief has turned me into an emotionally stunted preteen girl.  While I like to think I have more wisdom than the average preteen girl, there is still some level of truth to that statement.  Emotionally, I can only deal with what is in front of me and that in turn has made me self-absorbed.  I talk about myself too much.  I wonder when enough time has gone by that I don’t feel the need to talk about myself and my grief so much.  When do I begin to act normal again?

Grief is overwhelming.  Not only are we dealing with the absence of our loved one, we have to deal with the secondary losses.  Loss of security, loss of income, loss of future plans.  We have to rebuild and that is overwhelming.  Many widows don’t know how to rebuild.  I know I am relearning skills that I haven’t had to think about in over 6 years.  I know where I want to be but I don’t know how to get there.  I am like the underpants gnomes except I am not collecting underpants.

underpantsgnomes1

I had been working on removing toxicity from my life and I still find that I have too much to deal with emotionally.  It dawns on me that it isn’t enough to remove toxic people, you need to remove toxic thoughts too.  I need to learn how to redirect that energy to something more positive.

I also want to make a point that just because one is widowed does not mean that they are obligated to accept friendship from a person who tears you down.  Just because you are at a low point in your life does not mean that you deserve to be bullied or talked to in a way that is demeaning.  Surround yourself with supportive people.

Grief also can make you anxious and paranoid.  So much bad stuff happened to me this past year and I am constantly worried about what tragedy is coming next.  It’s like I can’t just accept that this storm has passed and I need to enjoy the sunshine until the next storm happens.  (Because widowhood doesn’t give you any immunity from bad things happening.  But let’s hope I don’t have to sit in another ICU room for 5 months watching someone else I care about suffer and die)  In addition to watching my husband die, many people that should have been supportive of my daughter and me were not.  Those people were selfish and self serving.  I was hurt by those people but I need to stop anticipating that I am going to be hurt by the people who have been there for me over and over again.  My friends have proven that they have been there for me and I need to trust that they will continue to be there for me.

Grief is ugly.  I am not looking for pity.  People who are grieving generally don’t want pity.  Or advice unless we specifically ask for it.  We want empathy, love and support.  People who are grieving don’t want to be spoken at or preached at.  We just want to be listened to.  And whatever you do, don’t tell the grieving how to grieve or try to educate them on their own experience.  Trust me, you don’t know.  Even if you think you do, you don’t.

Why am I sharing this?  Most people try to portray themselves in the best light possible, not share their ugly side.  There are many reasons.  The most important is that I believe in being honest and I want to give an honest account of grief, not just the noble parts.  I am not always that strong and stoic widow that many people believe I am.  The second reason is accountability.  I don’t want to act like this but I need to own it when I do.  I have been hurt by too many people who don’t take accountability for their actions.  I think we all know those people, the people that never apologize for anything.  They just blame everyone else .  And as always, I am writing this because I know I can’t be the only grieving person that feels like a hot mess sometimes.  Maybe someone that relates will read this and will get some relief for not being alone.

I have had a rough week.  I tend to write about what’s on my mind and there have been four posts this week.  I think that is a record. That’s a lot of stuff on my mind.  I want to put this week behind me. I have a nearly dead palm tree and a nearly dead oak tree in my kitchen.  They have not looked good for months.  I was convinced I had neglected those poor trees to the point of no return.  Well today I see signs of recovery.  If those trees can recover, there is no reason I can not.  We all can regardless of what pain we are moving forward from. It’s time to put the negativity behind me and enjoy the two birthday parties I am attending this weekend.

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