Thursday, May 21, 2009

Grief is a sucker puncher

You wake up and you remember. And before you even take your first waking breath of the day, you are in tears.

This passes, and you steel yourself for your day. Puffy, pink, and squinty eyed. But moving forward.

You lean over to wash your face, and suddenly, you have to sit on the edge of the cool, white porcelain tub. You are sobbing so hard your legs simply will not support you.

It comes suddenly, and it's as if the entire fabric of your universe is rent in two.

Grief sucker punches you.

You can think you're composed enough to make a phone call. And you can get as far as, "I have some sad news. . ."

When suddenly, your throat will close. You pull for air, and it comes out in a sighing wail.

You manage a, "My dad. . ."

And you hear an, "Oh, Lisa. . ."

And then you are both crying, each on your own end of the phone.

I cannot say what I was least prepared for, because I was least prepared for all of it. But what I had no idea how to anticipate was the grief on the other end of the phone.

We're all devastate. We all loved him. We have all lost.

But I, I feel like I understand it better than many others. I know there were so many layers, so many traumas, so many struggles.

And so I can genuinely feel in my heart that while this is horrendous for us, while selfishly I want him here, I think it is fair. I think it is better for him. I don't just say this; I believe it with all my heart and being.

But for some, this comes as a sharp, raw slice. You can hear the bewilderment, you can hear the jagged tear. You can feel the rip of the red, red wound in their voices.

This visceral reaction, this outpouring of grief back in my direction, for this I was entirely unprepared.


  1. wow. as hard as grief is - you know it is necessary. i don't think i have yet properly grieved my mother's death when i was nineteen, and it comes up unexpectedly, like this past mother's day when i sobbed and sobbed.

    i know what you mean about it being better for your dad - no matter how they try to change it, life on this planet is simply unbearable for some people.

    thinking of you.

  2. Grief is such a hard monster, because everyone does it differently so you can feel alone in a room filled with other people grieving for the same person you are.

    I'm so sorry. Be kind to yourself.

  3. I'm so sorry. Take care of yourself, Lisa.

  4. I wish I could steal just a little of your grief away to make it just a little easier for you. hugs.

  5. I keep writing and deleting my comments because I don't know exactly how to say what I'm thinking. I understand it in my own head but am having difficulty translating my thoughts into something that won't be misinterpreted.

    I believe that the reactions you've referenced are more about you and Betty personally than they are about your Dad. It's a natural feeling of upset when someone you care about is subjected to anything causing pain.

    When my father died, friends of mine - people who didn't actually know the man - these friends cried when I told them the news. But, where my tears were for my Dad, their tears were for me.

    No one enjoys seeing their loved ones hurting and be without the power to alleviate that pain. Somewhere along the way you yourself begin to take ownership and feel some of that pain.

    It's somewhat of a selfish reaction but it's certainly not a malicious (or even a conscious) one.

    I hope this makes sense.

    Love you! Again, here if you need anything. xo

  6. mysterygirl!5/21/2009 1:02 PM

    I'm here if there's anything I can do.

  7. Ithink the reaction you hear from others is shock. There is no shock for you because you have really, deeply lived this for so long. I think that is true of many families who lose someone, whether it be to suicide or a long illness (which are really the same if you have lived with the struggle of the person). There is, or there will be, a sense of relief for you that others won't feel, because they don't know what your father went through.

    I pray the grief monster lessens a bit for you and Betty every day.

  8. One second, one inch, one breath at a time. Life is so bittersweet, and you are definitely not alone.

  9. It does punch you and those punches hurt so desperately because you care so deeply.

    Like FreckledK said, those whom you are calling are not only crying for the loss of a great man but because someone for whom they care very deeply is hurting. It is, really, a testament to how wonderful you and Betty are.

    The grief will keep punching you and punching you. But please know that those around you and those who care for you will be there to lift you up when its knocked you down again.

  10. Because you understand, it can be that much harder, especially to deal with those who don't. Keep breathing, and keep moving forward. I don't know if it ever gets easier, but eventually you won't have to make those calls any more. *hugs*

  11. As much as it hurts right now, just breathe. Keep telling yourself that this, too, shall pass. It won't ever fully go away but it will disappear for periods at a time.

    I wish I could unfurl some of those claws from your chest.

  12. i really have nothing to say that can help... i know that at this time no amount of words or hugs can do anything more than comfort you for a bit... and then it's all back when you're alone, washing your face, driving in the car, whenever.
    but reading all of this, from your post updating us to this post and onto everything else you'll experience going forward... it's just so, i dunno, real. it makes me remember just how painful it truly is, and while time lends to your being able to compose yourself on a daily basis, it's still hard and it's still painful and this just reminds me of that. but i'm not trying to bring you down, it actually is a good reminder that as time passes you'll be able to live life again without so many all encompassing moments of grief... even though it's still there, deep down somewhere, and sometimes it just needs to come out.

    while seeing and hearing the grief from those around you hurts i found so much comfort in all of the reminiscing, seeing all the people who loved him over so may years, people with nothing but loving and funny and wonderful memories, people who knew what a great man we'd lost... i hope you find comfort in that as well, i think it helps (maybe it's just that feeling of not being alone i don't know, but i still look back on those few days and those were my favorite moments)

    ... sorry, i'm rambling and not really making sense anymore, i'm just so sorry and i want you to know that it's all normal... the crippling pain and grief, it's totally normal

  13. I am sorry Lisa. The calls are the hardest to make because they are sad for him, they are sad for you and they are sad for Betty.

  14. My prayers are with you and your family. I lost my Dad 5 years ago, so I kind of know what you're talking about.

  15. On top of everything, to be shouldering others' pain as well... it's all just too much. I'm so sorry. One day at a time, love. It's the only way to get through anything this devastating. <3

  16. I'm so sorry for all of your pain! You're in my thoughts!!!!!

  17. Like many others, I just don't know what to say other than that I'm sending you strength. And positive energy.

  18. I don't think anyone can be prepared for something like this. And I hope that grief learns to fight fair, soon.

    Thinking of you...

  19. The calls are hard and a mere word can cause a torrent of tears..

    I think the reactions you get is an outpouring of grief for you and Betty mingled with an unexplained and unreasonable feeling that they somehow let your family down - which somehow shifts the focus from what was right for your dad - given time they will understand it is better for your dad, his struggle is resolved and he now has peace.

    Grief is a sucker puncher, one that sneaks up on you and will do so when you least expect it. This is just how it is - it will run it's course.

    I'm sure you will talk about your dad and won't let him become a taboo subject, a saint or a hollow man.

    God bless you with strength and understanding. I hope comfort visits you soon and the pain gets pushed out of the way by happier thoughts and times.

  20. It's terrible knowing you are in pain, Lisa, and shedding tears and shaken by grief. Saddness can rush over one so quickly but warm memories and love can, too.

  21. Yeah, you said it good - grief IS a sucker puncher. One of the nicest things about your blog (and when I was sick last winter I went back and read them all from day one!)has been reading about your mom, and your relationship with her. I hold you both in my heart!


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