I'll take mine well done please

Death is a constant subject in my life, and in my heart and head. Most days it tries to rule my thoughts. Many times now I let it, as it helps me keep perspective.

It's not my death I obsess about, although of course I think about that too. It's the possibility of the death of those I love and need, and the deaths of two very important people in my life that always hovers near by, waiting to rein in the temptation to make a bigger deal out of something relatively unimportant. The temptation to get more angry at my son or husband than a situation truly warrants, the temptation to hold a grudge or drag out a disagreement to make a point or to punish a loved who's "done me wrong". I most always will ask myself, is this how you want things to be if this important person were suddenly plucked from your life? Poof, gone! It straightens me out every time.

Some may think it's unhealthy to think about the possibility of death as often as I do, so for the most part, I keep my thoughts to myself. There are those there is no need to do so with though, and those are the members of the "I know shit happens club". My son is one of those, something for which I'm sad and grateful. Sad because he had to do important, sudden deaths so much younger than I had to which not only makes him have to feel a sense of loss for much longer than I will and experience a loss of invincibility that I got to enjoy for many more years than he did. Grateful because he doesn't feel invincible which makes him more careful and caring of those who he loves.

I've recently observed someone who's just joined the "club". It wasn't that he'd not experienced loss before, but he's just experienced that kind of loss that shocks and rocks you to the core. The kind that makes you realize we're all not here forever, in the capacity we know anyway. The kind that makes you go wtf am I holding on to shit for?!? Why am I wasting time living without people I could lose forever in an instant?

I don't like being part of the "club", but I am. If I weren't part of it I wouldn't worry so much, or rather exist in a constant state of controlling my worry, not allowing it to consume me but instead using it to guide me and put it to good use in forcing myself not to sweat the small stuff. To let anger and hurt feelings go if the recipient or cause of it are worthy and are someone I'd regret never seeing or talking to again.

I've just been reading about a mom who feels she's not doing her grief of losing her son right and it made me wonder if there is one right way and I don't think there is. What I do think is there are ways to survive grief, that some grief, as in the case of a loss of a child, never goes away. It evolves, it takes on different weights and shapes and sizes, but it never goes away.

For me, it's what I do with my grief that is important. And what I do is use it, control it, feel it when it's safe, share it when it's necessary or relevant, and keep it close and private sometimes to protect loved ones who are still alive. Is this doing it right? For me, I can honestly say, yes. I do my grief right.

How do you do yours?


  1. The older I get, and the longer I realize how fortunate I have been in life, the more I worry about the loss of those I love. It happened this weekend; my Mom said something a little hurtful, which she didn't mean, and I found myself clamming up and cutting our Saturday call short. But then I called her right back, because I thought exactly what you say here: What if something happened to her, and this was my last conversation.

    As for ways to do grief - I don't think there's a right or wrong way. Grief just is.

  2. Nice to see you Margie : )

    My mom is my toughest one to not sweat the small stuff with, something I think is pretty common in plenty of mother/daughter relationships. A woman that I work with and I have a safe place to moan about our moms which I find very helpful. It's impossible to ignore everything the difficult people whom we love do, and I've come to a place where I have no illusions about people's true nature and the negative affect they have on my health, so I think it's ok to do a little (ok sometimes a lot) bitching now and then about these kinds of people, but I try do it in a way that will leave me with no regrets.

    Sometimes we have to "cut our Saturday call short", but it's a wise person who calls back to fix it in whatever way works for that circumstance.

  3. You know, I wasn't going to respond. Then I thought about it. First, for the young one, losing someone when you are young, yes, it is difficult, but it makes loss later a little bit easier. Not perfect, but true.

    For all the mom's out there that no one worries about, I know. Sometimes it is just part of it. I know that I would not be missed by many, and even less by the ones that should, but the facts are the facts. We, as human beings, don't realize how much life means until it is no more. When you don't learn it young, a lot of times you just don't learn it.

    My child has never experienced that kind of loss, until my husband and it is not really real to her, and she is not a child. One day, she will. I hope she does not regret the loss because of unimportant things.

  4. I remember when I used to not know. I remember wondering how it would be, how I would handle it. I'd experienced death, but my sorrow was usually for those who were experiencing deep loss and grief for the person who was gone.

    At my dad's mom's funeral, I wasn't really affected until I saw my dad's face as he left the church.

    Faith is supposed to help people in death, but that doesn't work for me. After my brother died, someone (well meaning and caring) said to me, "well, I guess God needed more hockey players in heaven", to which I responded not as much as his two little daughters need him here.
    Also, I watched my mom's mom in her last days, a woman who considered herself a devout Catholic, and I could see no comfort in her eyes. I saw fear, fear that I've always wondered was brought about by some of her less than Christian like actions throughout her life, and that she'd have some answering to do to her god. Maybe I'm wrong.

    "We, as human beings, don't realize how much life means until it is no more."

    Lori, this couldn't be more true. Thank you for commenting.

  5. I hear ya. Please welcome this card-carrying member. At this point DD is well-versed in death too, having lost a major figure in her life at age 9. Death--the invisible cloak that settles on one permanently (needs no washing) and with each successive loss becomes more defining of self even if other people don't realize it. Don't know about you but I am profoundly disconnected from those who have lost no one (adoption and divorce included).

    It's interesting when people feel they are not grieving right. Probably if they are thinking about it, they are doing OK. Your closing paragraph was pretty much where I am too. And DD and I talk about death quite a lot. It's who we are and we know that.

  6. Hmmm I have to think about that one, being disconnected from those who've lost no one. My initial reaction was that I know I have a strong disconnect to those who've experienced deep loss and seem unchanged. Like the person who isn't hard to take because they are the grieving widow or widower but rather because they were hard to take before their loss, and then they just....never...get it.

  7. ". . .they were hard to take before their loss, and then they just....never...get it"

    Well, grief doesn't make you better! It just makes you different.

  8. I see what you're saying, but, in my case, it did make me better, better than I was. Not better than other people, better than my pre club self.

    I am exposed to some who experience(d) the loss and grief, but are still the same. Make the same choices, treat people the same way, remain as self centered, self involved as ever.

    Possibly one of the people didn't really suffer as a deep of a loss as they claim to, but without a doubt the other suffered their worst possible loss. Hmmm, now in writing that perhaps I've explained my own thought. The person who's suffered their worst possible loss perhaps has nothing important enough left to really care about, to put before their self.

  9. I'd take back my rotten old self in a heartbeat to have back the people I miss, for my nieces to have their dad, for my mom to have her son, for my son to feel invincible.

    And, it'd be awful nice to have a break from controlling my fear of the next loss.

  10. My best friend and her mom, who was my mom's best friend and a 2nd mother to me, died suddenly in an accident. It was 2 weeks before her wedding and 5 weeks before mine. It was also a month after my cousin was killed in a similar accident (both accidents involved trucks). She was picking up some stuff for her wedding and I was supposed to go with her. At the last minute, I was asked to pick up my (now) sister-in-law at the train station and had to cancel so her mom went with her instead. This was a sudden, brutal loss and one that brought me a lot of guilt as well.
    It was horrible and taught me quickly that life can be snatched away at any time (if being an oncology nurse did not already teach me that).

    As awful as it was, my first thought was for her sister and father for the loss was much greater for them. Other than grandparents, I have yet to lose someone who is intimately connected to me like my parents, husband, or sister and I pray every day I will not live to see my children's deaths.

    I don't think there is a right or wrong way to grieve - there are so many variables involved when someone dies. I saw many varied reactions to death during my time in oncology nursing - everything from wailing to relief. And although the grief may change over time, it never goes away. My friend was my sounding board, the one person who always told me the truth and "laid it on the line". There have been countless times since 1993 that I have longed for her advice and to share things with her.

    My kids have never experienced death. I am thankful for this but yet it is one of those things I know they will have to experience at one time or another, God willing (the only other way would be for them to die too soon.)

  11. Wow Kris, that's a wicked hard one.

    I had an experience you as an oncology nurse would likely be able to relate to. In fact, the person involved in the experience used similar words to yours, "everything from wailing to relief".

    It was a funeral home director, and he told me that he'd seen all kinds of people grieving in all kinds of situations and had never seen a person reacting the way a central person in this particular tragedy was, that although he hesitated to say anything, unsure if it was his place, he thought he must and did so to me.

    His words have never left me.

  12. I lost both of my parents when I was in my early twenties. I had no idea how to "do grief" so I did the best I could at the time. When my son was in kindergarten, two of his classmates drowned one summer afternoon after class. He was affected in a powerful way and grieved for his little friends in a unique way. I believe he was too young to have heard of a right or wrong way to grieve so he did what he needed to do to deal with the tragedy.

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