After he was gone: confusion and grief consuming

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TorahThis week I went to Jewish Yom Kippur services. This is the part of the Jewish High Holidays celebration and this particular day is called the Day of Atonement, where we atone for our sins throughout the year and ask ‘God’ for forgiveness for our everyday transgressions – large or small – and promise/vow to do better in the coming year.

An integral part of the day included a lengthy Yizkor service honouring the memory of our dead loved ones.  We read poems and Jewish death liturgy. It was an intense service where the words spoke to me again and again. I was enveloped in mourning those who passed before me. I believe this was the beginning of my week spiraling down into another deep grief depression.

This week I met with a friend – an editor – who agreed to talk about a submission I wanted to write for a book anthology on death, and to bounce around some ideas with her for an outline. As we talked, the memories flooded back again. Tears welled up. I was living the last moments of his life, questioning the rationale for what happened – Why did he die? Did I do all I could? Why couldn’t I save him this time? Could we have done something differently?

writingAfter my friend left, I tried to start writing my piece, but it didn’t seem genuine. The words and thoughts were stilted. It didn’t capture what I felt. It wasn’t conveying my feelings. I began wondering whether I really wanted someone to judge my personal writing and possibly reject it because it didn’t meet their standards. When you pour you soul out and others dismiss it as substandard would it be too difficult to bear?

Even after an evening with my weekly meditation group didn’t relax me. The act of meditating became a futile attempt to calm a wandering mind focusing on finding words for the anthology story and coming up with empty platitudes, stale remarks and boring analogies.

The fact that our Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend probably added to my muddled mind. Another holiday without Bob. The enveloping sadness that was taking over and then there was October 11th. It would have been our 29th wedding anniversary.

That night I couldn’t stop thinking. The yearning of my loss morphed into a need to be held, but there was no one there to hold me and tell me it would be alright. I was, again, back in the time of feeling bereft.

Today, I am wrung out from crying, wailing and flailing my fists at unfairness, aloneness, desperation. Can someone please bring him back, reverse time, make this as if it never happened?

Grief is a never-ending cycle. Slowly, through time, the positives in life begin to outweigh the negatives. We are more present, living in the moment rather than living in the past. The bad days don’t go away but we begin to see the triggers and rationale. But  that doesn’t negate the grief. It slowly heals, then we fall back and, like a Band-Aid® being ripped off quickly and without care for the pain it inflects, the wounds, partially healed, are revealed and the anguish and heartache return.

It’s been 16 months since he was gone. I have fewer people to turn to. Who wants a call in the middle of the night from a woman who can’t stop crying? Shouldn’t I be over it? Is that what others think? And yet the grief continues. It doesn’t take a holiday. It is part of my life and comes up unexpectedly again, and again, and again.

I know I did all I could to try and save him, but it was his time. And now I must live without him. I still don’t know how to do that. I haven’t figured out what my purpose is. After a day and night like I just went through I just feel wrung out. It’s easier to crawl into bed and never come out.

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10 responses »

  1. Suzanne: I am so sorry that you are still being ripped apart by grief. The only thought that came to my mind while reading this is, have you ever thought of visiting a shaman? I did several years ago as you know, and it helped me thru a difficult time. You talk about not knowing your life’s purpose. This is something a shaman could definitely help you discover. A friend of mine found one somewhere in/near TO that changed her life. I can connect you two if you like. For now, I am sending you a great big hug, and please know that I am here to talk anytime you like.

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  2. It is quite possible that a Shaman could help…..I spent time with a shaman healer (who has now passed away) during the time just before and after my mother’s depression and eventual suicide. Her love and guidance truly helped me through that grief period. There are some amazing healers out there in the ‘alternative world’ …I’d highly recommend searching. A place to connect and ask about that here in London is ‘The Circle’…many wonderful (and perhaps Shaman) women healers…..Bonnie Sopia comes to mind as a start. Love, mj

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  3. Thanks Mary Jane. I should have known you would know about this. I do know a woman who combines healing touch and grief therapy here in town. I’ve used her a few times. She’s very much into spirituality as well. I think I will give her a call and have a visit with her. Thanks again for your insight and weighing in. It means a lot to me to get so much helpful feedback.

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  4. Suzanne perhaps your purpose is to do exactly what you are currently doing. Telling the story about the cycles of grief, putting what others are suffering silently and alone into words and getting it out there, reminding us all that healing is not done in a convenient time frames that grief and loss can consume us on and off for years. Putting it in words is a way of looking at those feelings and working your way through them yet again until some sort of acceptance comes about.

    I see you have stopped blaming yourself for not doing more You may not realize this but while you were writing about Bob’s dying in your blog most of us reading it were saying, “My God he’s dying. He cannot survive this.” You were more surprised by his death than we were. The fact that you have forgiven yourself for continuing to live, for not being able to do more, for trying to come to terms with it is such a huge step forward from where you have been.

    In the middle ages they used to write Every Man Plays. Your blogs are Every Widow blogs. You remind all of us who live with our head in the sand about the inevitablity of death and separation that we will all walk this path, we will all feel this helplessness and we must strive as you have valiently striven over the past 16 months to lay the foundation for the next phase of life. A new home, plants, two cuddly rambunctious kittens, a few adventures with girl friends with whom you feel safe. Step by step you are distancing yourself from the abyss of loss and finding ways to control and shape its impact.

    I expect Bob is incredibly proud of you for honouring his memory but also starting to rebuild you life. If you believe in honouring the dead then conversely you must believe that they too honour you the living and wish you to find peace and contentment with life.

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  5. Your words are comforting, but at the same time confusing. Was I the only one who didn’t know that I couldn’t save him this time? Even his surgeon said, when I called him to say Bob had died, “That wasn’t supposed to happen!”

    In retrospect, I know it was out of our hands. The medication that gave him a decade of good health ended up killing him. I guess that was the trade-off. But I really didn’t think it would end like this and he didn’t either. We were both fighting for his life up until the last day when his body couldn’t do it anymore. He knew then. I was still in denial.

    I write to try and make things clear for myself. Thank you for telling me that my writing is helping others. I hope it is.

    You are a good friend. To all of you who have supported me throughout a heartfelt thanks.

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  6. Hi Suzanne, I have been thinking a lot about you since I last saw you. There is an understanding that comes from reading your blogs. If you are looking for a shamanic healer, the one in London that I would recommend is Deborah Carter. I have had a few patients over the years that have responded well under her care and teaching. She is also a Reiki master and meditation consultant. Deborah’s contact information is 519-642-7310 or debcar13@gmail.com. I just wanted you to have the info in case you decide it was something you wanted to do.

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  7. Thanks you Janice. I will look into it. I was pretty much a mess that morning. Those days are fewer, but this is definitely not the best week I’ve had in a while. Thank you, as always, for caring.

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