Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Writing Through Grief, Part 3

            Part of the problem with grieving is that it doesn’t come in this nice, neat, clearly labeled package: “Oh, here is Grief. I will take it out and feel sad and nostalgic for this person [pet, thing] I have have been separated from, and then after ten minutes, I will put it back away and on the shelf until another day.”
            No. For starters, it blindsides you, almost never when it’s appropriate or convenient. It may or may not be accompanied with tears. It might manifest (as I mentioned before) as anger or apathy.
            Grief makes me stupid, forgetful. It’s raw and yet enervating, causing me to be far more sensitive than any human being has a right to be, and at the same time calloused to the hurt of others.
            What really sucks, is that as time goes on, it feels less about missing the person who has left this life, and more that a whole chunk of your own life—who you are, what you base your daily routine around—is suddenly just gone.
            Basically, your whole paradigm just shifted.
            We writers, especially we speculative writers (and I am still one at heart, even though I’ve written both contemporary romance and historical, and am only published so far in historical), are used to writing about such paradigm shifts. We resent having to live them.
            I’m seriously resenting it this time.
It was one thing when we lost my adoptive dad, the summer I was 17 and newly graduated from high school. I didn’t know anything about grief back then but I subliminated a lot of it—and wound up with a hard-to-diagnose and protracted case of mono that kept me from returning to college after a mere three semesters. That was Daddy, and his passing was such a shock—just a month between his first hospitalization and his passing from cancer.
It was also different, grieving the loss of a baby. I knew by then that I better give myself space to grieve, or else, even if it meant shutting myself in my bedroom and screaming into a pillow, just to vent all the careening emotion in a way that wouldn’t harm my living children. That was still one of the roughest years—or two.
This time, indulging the grief feels ... wrong. Like, she’s only gone temporarily. I felt something of the same the couple of years that Troy served as civilian support in Afghanistan—a single parent in practice, mourning not just the physical closeness but the emotional closeness as well. But, I’ve spent the last couple of years watching Mom decline ... shouldn’t I have been prepared for this? Shouldn’t I feel more gladness that she isn’t suffering?
My stepdad’s grief, now, I can understand. Between everything, he was robbed of nearly a whole year with her. At the end only had, what, ten days with her at home, in the new house? Just talking to him on the phone hurts. I breathe in his pain like shards of glass and find that it kindles my own, all over again.
For crying out loud, though, I’ve been on my own, a married adult for nearly 30 years now. And fiercely independent during most of that (for a few different, complicated reasons). Why does the stray thought of being motherless suddenly snatch my breath and quicken my heartbeat?
I feel like I’ve been grieving already for the past year and more. Maybe I have.
Regardless, I find myself fighting it this time. Trying to tough it out, wrestle through the fog and stupidity and hardness of heart until something completely random and irrelevant reduces me to much-needed tears.
Because God made weeping to be a release for us, not as a sign of weakness.
Why is it so hard to remember that?

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