Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Learning More About Grief, the Hard Way

Hello Friends:

I lost a friend a few days ago.  I had intended to blog about it immediately, but was still sort of in shock.  Or denial.  Definitely denial, since I can feel this "how can this person not exist anymore" sensation.  I had known for several months that she had cancer, something with a bad prognosis.  But the last report just a week or so ago was that she was in treatment, battling hard, still writing papers and grading tests.  And then this.  She was 47, and as full of life and willpower as anyone I'd ever met.

I am really tired of people dying.  In the last several years I've lost my father-in-law, a grandmother, a grandmother-in-law, several science colleagues ... it's a bit of a list.  Some were older, and had been ill for some time.  That doesn't help, but facing the stark inevitability of someone elderly passing away is at least vaguely comprehensible.  Some were younger, like my friend.  This is not comprehensible.  Not computing.

I've written before on the problem of grieving past losses.  I know part of the healing process is looking back on an abusive and traumatic past and learning how to grieve what never was.  Not that I'm particularly good at it.  It's just too hard, and seems sort of optional.  Who wants to go digging, even if you know you need to deal with that loss eventually?  It seems ignorable.  Easy to focus on other "more pressing" issues.  And then something like this happens, and grief and loss come and slap you in the face.  There is no escape from this.

You can feel the echoes through your whole psyche - it feels too familiar - and you realize your interior tapestry is largely woven from sadness, grief, and loss.  That past is the fiber inside of you, and this new grief is catching on the threads, caught, tangled.  You have an inclination to grab a pair of scissors and cut it out, every spot of grief and pain.  But you get some semblance of sanity, and realize you'll end up with an inside full of more holes than you already have.  You can't cut your memories away without cutting yourself out along with it.  It is so much harder to try to darn and re-weave, but that's the choice.  Hardly profound, but facing facts is one of those things I'm trying to get myself to do right now.

I don't want to forget my friend.  It hurts, but I want to go on remembering.  It's important.  She deserves to be remembered and her life deserves to be celebrated.

Not that I feel like celebrating at the moment.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Sky Cries Mary by frantikgirl on flickr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0

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