I’ve been reading a lot lately. Some of it is fluff – silly sci-fi and fantasy, letting myself ignore the world for a while. Some of it is books about dealing with grief. Most of them are anecdotal, stories about people dealing with grief or, in some cases, really not dealing with it. One was a look at the physical side of grief, which was basically 100 ways to take care of yourself. That was rather nice, since the physical side of grief (not sleeping, random cramping, muscle and joint pain, headaches, loss of appetite, and that’s just a partial list) is not talked about much. It was basically a book about how to take care of yourself while you are grieving. I didn’t agree with all of it, but it helped a bit.
Another book I read was The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss. This helped me more than the anecdotal books did. The authors actually studied how people handle great losses and discovered that, for the most part, people are resilient. Until about six months after a loss, it’s hard to tell how someone will handle it long term, but humans get through things. A lot of what it said helped because I felt like what I am going through was strange, too much emotion, that it wouldn’t let up, but at the same time normal life is settling back in, and I feel almost like I’m betraying my brother’s memory by being able to move forward.
My friends have been helping me a lot, too. When I am overwhelmed by fury, they tell me they’ve been there. It’s a normal reaction. When I can’t do more than one thing at a time, when I feel like I can’t keep up with the world, they tell me it gets better, eventually. The pain of loss doesn’t go away, but it eases, though it will take time.
I saw one therapist and we did not fit at all. I have another appointment this week with someone else; hopefully she will be able to help more, give me tools to help get through this. I don’t have any issue with experiencing the pain and dealing with what I need to deal with, but I don’t know how to handle feeling like I’m in deep water, toes just touching the sand, and waves keep knocking me down.
I’ve also been trying to keep up with the people I usually follow, reading their blogs and laughing at silly Twitter posts. I read something on Stop Motion Verbosity recently which made me think about what I write and how I write. “When a lot of what you read, when many of your friends, put so much negativity out there it is easy to feel that the world is a much darker place than it is….There’s good things happening all the time, even through the really shitty times, and the best way to get through those shitty times is to recognize the good. And yes the good times are often smaller and far more fleeting, that’s the nature of the good bits, frankly. It’s a great sandwich, a smile on the street, a tiny memory when a song you love plays – those are all great moments of happiness that need to be cherished and recognized.”
I’m dealing with some hard things right now. I will not pretend otherwise, and I’ve never seen the world as all roses and sugarplums. There are good things, though. Last night Xander made BBQ sauce from scratch and grilled shrimp and pineapple on skewers for dinner. He cooked down some of the sauce and put it on rice. It was exceptionally good. The shrimp came out a little bit smoky tasting, the pineapple’s sweetness was emphasized more by cooking, and the BBQ sauce was very good. We sat, ate, and talked, relaxed despite the heat, and it was a good evening.
A few days ago, I was puttering around on the computer and Nyx was in the office with me. She stood at the door and opened it by pushing against it with her nose. Then she closed it partway. Then she opened it again. I sat and watched her do this for about ten minutes until she shut the door a little too hard and couldn’t open it again. I thought it was quite funny.
Yesterday morning I got up early and weeded the strawberry patch, weed whacked the front yard and the courtyard, took a shower, and we ran some errands and went to see a movie. When we got back, I cleaned house, and it felt good to be tired. I got rid of a chair that has been falling apart for months, and I enjoyed physically pulling it apart, breaking it into manageable pieces.
I am de-cluttering. I feel the need for more organization, more space, more clarity. I am donating books that I won’t read again, giving some of them away, letting go of things I don’t need. It isn’t a bad thing.
There is still grief. Sometimes it slams into me like a freight train and I have to find somewhere to sit and fall apart for a while. Sometimes a song will stick in my head and I will miss my little brother terribly, just wanting to be able to see him again, to give him a hug. Sometimes I think about my smart, witty, funny grandmother who adored teasing Xander and I find myself mourning the loss of that person. When we saw her, she seemed a little afraid of him, uncomfortable, not sure why he was there. I miss the person she used to be.
With all of this, though, as overwhelming as it can be, and as painful as it is, there is still reason for laughter. There are still good things. I’m sore today from pulling weeds and making the house a little nicer. It’s a good kind of sore.
Spider Robinson, one of my favorite authors (Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon is one of those books I have several copies of, one to re-read, one because I’ve had it for years and it’s falling apart, and one to loan out), said, and was quoted in the blog post I mentioned earlier, “Shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased.”
Here’s joy in the midst of a hard time. I am trying to pay more attention to joy even while I’m dealing with the hard parts and working through them. I hope you find a little bit of joy today, too, no matter how hard the rest of life can be.