I’ve been in this colossal, stunned hypnagogic fog for the past month. Over the last two days, I've begun to emerge. Sorta. Kinda. Mostly. I guess. Lemme just tell you, this blows mondo Bantha wang. Utterly. That TAB is gone, that I don’t get to wake up beside him, I can’t make him laugh or annoy him with my Morning Personhoodedness or see his brill smile again is 99 bazillion kinds of wrong.
I’ve discovered a new depth of grief and, I’ll just tell you for free, this shit makes the Grand Canyon look shallow.
For what it’s worth, I’m not following the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief thing.
1. Denial and IsolationIn my case, I knew TAB croaked, I was there (both times!). But I found it astoundingly shocking and bewildering. How can this be?! I don't understand!
The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation.
2. AngerOK. I’ve got this happening now. I’m not mad at any one person, no. I’m furious with the universe. How can this have happened?! Who's been asleep at the wheel?! Heads WILL roll, I tell you!
As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger.
3. BargainingFine, I did this one too – not the second opinion part (I was cool with TAB’s docs) but the other two. If only I’d been a better wife…..Yeah, no. Not going down that road any farther. TAB and I were Della and James Dillingham Young writ large. Yes, we both could have been better spouses to the other but, ya know, all in all we rocked the hell clean outta this joint.
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–
If only we had sought medical attention sooner…
If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…
4. DepressionRe: that first kind of depression – the reaction to the practical shit. Yeah, I’m depressed and scared – even panicky at times. I feel so vulnerable with TAB gone. The bottom line though? I’m surrounded by wonderful people who loved us both. There are no mercenary asswipes, waiting in the wings for their chance to snatch my world out from under me. (Update: shortly. just a few days, after I wrote this, two mercenary greedheads came out of the woodwork but, HA HA, their rapacious asswipian plans didn't succeed)
Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss.
The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell.
5. AcceptanceI’m not really sure what this stage is all about. Have I accepted that TAB’s gone? If by accepted you mean that I recognize and acknowledge the reality of his goneness – yes, I get that. Am I calm? Fuck no but then, that’s not a state of being with which I've ever really had much truck.
A couple dear friends sent me links to Patton Oswalt’s beautiful post. On Monday, I was at day 28 here in Grief World, he was at 102.
He starts with:
Thanks, grief.Yup. He goes on to say even more of how I’m feeling too. Like him, I'm attempting to rejoin my life.
Thanks for making depression look like the buzzing little bully it always was.
I’ve begun painting again. I’m planning out where/how to re-set up my clay studio so I’ll be playing in the clay once more. Throwing plates and bowls is profoundly calming and meditative. Maybe, someday soon, leaving the house won’t feel so scary, like such a giant, fearsome challenge.
It could happen!