A nice lady approached me at Sam's the other day and commented on my column on grief. The long response to that is that I hadn't written a column on grief. Yet. The column she referred to was simply to report my brother's death, and indulge in a few memories.
This is my column on grief.
I suppose there are all kinds of grief, with different layers and levels.
However, whether one has suffered the loss of a parent, spouse, a child or sibling, there are common denominators.
Grief can sneak up on you when you least expect it. There will be a day when you might begin to feel normal, actually experience twinges of joy, then you'll remember what you had temporarily forgotten ... that horrible thing that has happened.
Grief and trauma often walk hand in hand. Flashbacks of the event, and the hours surrounding the time you first heard or saw, can come to you when you least expect it. Often it's when I first open my eyes in the morning, suddenly remembering that I am down to only one brother now. Other times it can be in the
middle of laughter, that twinge that reminds me that I am still sad.
Grief is going to the eye doctor with a red eye and being told it's because you've been crying too much. Grief can be pathetic.
Grief is flipping out over the mildest thing, for no good reason. It is going over the edge and taking others down with you, hurting them just because they're a part of your life.
Grief has its triggers. For me, in this case, the brother I rarely saw or spoke with is suddenly everywhere. Music triggers are huge. His eclectic musical tastes have got me messed up all the way from the Chipmunks to the Hollies to Stevie Ray. My brother Mark has been my greatest musical influence.
After Whitney Houston died, we had this thing where we would email each other Whitney Houston death updates. As in, "...this just in. Kevin Costner still saddened by Whitney's death." Or, "...here is the latest. Dolly Parton got emotional at Whitney Houston's funeral." And, "New revelations from Whitney Houston's mother. People are saying things about her that aren't true."
I will never hear the name Whitney Houston again without my mind going to Mark.
Guilt can be a part of grief and is too painful to talk about. I try not to feed that monster.
Sometimes remembering is like picking a scab, and other times you want to nurture those memories because you feel like that's all that you have left of that person. Photographs can make you cry and the past comes back all twisted up in longing, regret, laughter and joy.
And to try not to remember feels almost disloyal.
All of that and more is what grief is about. We are told that it's important to take the time to feel it, and I imagine it lessens over time. But the lady from Sam's told me that she is still grieving the loss of her brother from 1942, and the tears in her eyes told me the same thing.
Wherever did the expression "Good Grief" come from?