In the middle of a perfectly normal day, I can make a sudden descent into sorrow. It is so hard to climb out. There’s the desire to pause there, clutch the grief to my chest, and cling to it like a familiar sweater or an old toy.
I can’t figure out the timing of it. I do the HALT inventory like I did when I first was sober. Am I hungry? No. Angry? No. Lonely? A little. Tired? Not really. The answers vary. Sometimes I am all four at the same time, but I don’t get the grief gut punch. Other times, just a little tiredness can bring it on. What kind of deep well does this grief come out of?I walked a mile with Pleasure; She chatted all the way; But left me none the wiser For all she had to say. I walked a mile with Sorrow, And ne’er a word said she; But, oh! The things I learned from her, When sorrow walked with me. -Robert Browning Hamilton
I wish that I thought I were learning something from this. I am speechless in the face of other people’s grief. I want to run shrieking away from their pain. I am more familiar with it today than I was years ago before Jack’s death. But familiar doesn’t generate comfort with it. It is just the opposite. I cringe from it because I know just how horrible it feels.
I know today that throwing my arms around someone may not do anything to help, may even cause more hurt. I know today that there isn’t a fix for the pain, no medicine that can take away the sadness. I know that however much people may love me, they cannot really share the weight of mourning. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the support; company on the road is always welcome. The loss burden is mine to put in my pack.
I know that there’s not a timeline on this grief thing. I thought that a year or two would pass and I would feel better. Then, I worried that I would feel better. Losing the pain would be like Jack wasn’t here at all. I know that doesn’t happen.
The intensity of grief’s pain astounds me. My friend Gary has back troubles and he says his back will feel fine and then all of a sudden he will have fierce spasms that will drive him to his knees.
I understand that painful jolt in a way I wouldn’t have understood if I hadn’t lost my child. That is the way, after 42 months and 22 days, I feel when an agonizing jolt of sadness thuds into my heart. I found myself surrounded by Bob and his family on Sunday. There was a point when I wanted to grab my little Bosty Betsy and go home. Just sit in the quiet. I had become acutely aware that I am missing a son. None of Bob’s family knew Jack and all of them wanted to enjoy a happy Sunday dinner. God let me defer my grief for another day on Sunday and for that, I am grateful. I’ve found when the need to deeply grieve comes, there is nothing that can deny it. I am as powerless over it as I am over alcohol.Don’t think of him as gone away his journey’s just begun,
life holds so many facets
this earth is only one… Think how he must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away. And think of him as living
in the hearts of those he touched…
for nothing loved is ever lost
and he was loved so much Ellen Brenneman
I am ambivalent about an afterlife. I want to believe in one. Jack wrote a song that has the words, “I don’t believe in Hell but I’ve gotta believe in Heaven. I couldn’t sleep at night not knowing you are somewhere better.” That would be nice to know.