Monday, 4 October 2021

How It Feels

Grief, that is.

It feels like pressure, like a huge hand with me in its grip, squeezing out my breath, my tears, my energy, my motivation, my give-a-damn.

It feels like grey, like brown, like black, like mud and tar and cement shoes.

It feels like hopelessness, like the future is lost, like the past hurts, like crying. 

Crying, and crying, and crying.

Tears behind my mask at the grocery store, where I see constant reminders of foods my husband loved, of foods he was forced to eat when he could no longer swallow solids, of foods I bought to tempt his appetite but he never got to eat and they sat on kitchen shelves until they were past their expiry date and I cried as I threw them away.

Tears at work, when I see his name in a file because we worked in the same profession and some of his clients became clients of my boss after my husband's death.

Tears when I am driving and I think of the last times he drove himself before I wouldn't let him drive anymore because he was so weak he could barely walk but he had something to do at his office and he was determined to get there. We argued over that, and my heart broke to see him cry, and hear him say, "Okay, okay, it's easier to give in than to keep arguing with you", and to know it was so hard for him to give up that shred of dignity but it was not safe for him to get behind the steering wheel.

And I am selfishly glad that I could take him to the office that day because I got to see him behind his desk one last time and we sat in the sun and the silence while he worked and I was able to be his legs and take documents up and down stairs to other offices. And as he worked, I looked around and saw how he had made his office a reflection and a collection of his life: his diplomas, his pictures, his textbooks, his ornaments. He had moved into that office just one year before that and I had never been in it. And I am glad I had that time and that memory to file away.

I cry because when we got home that day, he crawled into the hospital bed that had been placed in our family room because he could no longer manage the stairs, and it turned out that it was one of the very last times he was able to walk at all. I didn't know it then, of course.

The last time for everything was only identifiable in hindsight. 

I miss him so much and as you can tell my grief has seeped out of the box it's been in, probably partly because the barriers I've put up between my mother's needs and what I am willing to do to satisfy them are now working better and partly because the arrival of fall weather has made the memories of my husband's last everything come into sharper focus and it's like living it all over again except he is not here this time around for me to comfort and take care of, nor for him to comfort me, a job I tried hard not to set on his shoulders but failed at doing sometimes.

Some days are not as bad but other days are very bad; this is one of the those and I needed to get it out.

Thank you for reading in spite of what may be going on in your own lives. We all have troubles; they are all different and they are all relative to what we've gone through before and what we understand of pain and loss and broken dreams. Never think your pain is less than anyone else's or that you have no right to feel sad or hurt. There are so many kinds of pain and they are all valid. I think this advice is equally for you and for me.

I don't want you to worry or think that I am lost or unable to cope. I have not gone to grief counselling but I have found an author online who writes about grief and his words resonate with me and make me feel I am not alone and for now that is enough. I have never felt truly comfortable with the thought of talking to a complete stranger about the things that are most important to me. I seem to be able to work things through without what I see as an invasion of my privacy as long as I can read what others have to say on the subject and identify with their thoughts and feelings and experiences.

And although I know from the page views that there may be complete strangers reading this, I know there are people also reading who I feel I know better than many people in my immediate geographic circle, and I value and appreciate your caring and support and the time you take to listen.

If you are having a bad day today, I will listen also. Drop me a line in the comments. And may we all have better days ahead.

 


 

 

 

 


52 comments:

37paddington said...

I am glad you are writing about it, Jenny. We are here, reading and beaming you love.

Elephant's Child said...

Grief like all chronic pain is a totally sucky beast which impacts EVERY aspect of our lives.
Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring. Today and every day.
And thank you for this honest, painful post.

Andrew said...

I read this with great care and compassion and have nothing meaningful or comforting to say.

messymimi said...

My heart aches for you, i wish i could do something that would help. Since i can't, just know i am thinking of you.

Bonnie said...

My dear Jenny, I am so glad you have written these words, thoughts and memories. Keep writing them as long as you need to do so. It is so much better for you to get your feelings out anyway you can. How I wish I could help you. I wish you could cry out all your feelings on my shoulder, or tell me about them or do whatever would help you to feel some comfort. Remember when you share these thoughts you also share the weight they put on you and maybe it will help you, even if just a little. No one knows exactly how YOU feel but you have many friends that care and want to be here for you. Please be kind to yourself and take care of you no matter what else may be going on. I'm sorry you have to make your way through this pain but know I am here and I care.

kylie said...

For what it's worth and I'm a little off track, I doubt a grief counsellor could help you. You are successfully navigating life and finding support. No counsellor will take the pain away and you probably wouldn't want them to.

I'm sorry it is so hard, I can't even imagine. And I'm so pleased you got to drive him to his office that day, what a poignant memory.

Joanne Noragon said...

Jenny, you are stronger and more wise than you think. I know the good advice you had for me was so valuable. I also know grief has so many ways of manifesting. I loved my mother almost unconditionally--that's a little joke between my sister and me. She loved our brother more. But it was the way of her time. My grandmother loved her son above my mother. It's been almost 25 years since mom departed, and I still think about calling her. It just takes time, as you build the life you have now. All will be well.

Red said...

As I've said before , writing is a great comforter. You have described things today that I'm sure many people have not even imagined. I'm sure that by helping yourself, you are helping others.

Cathy said...

I do hope your better days arrive sooner rather than later. Sending much love and best wishes to you from me, a stranger maybe…(.a regular reader just not a commenter) to help sooth your mind

River said...

Tears are one of God's miracles. We can cry an ocean and still there are more when we need them and they always help. I am glad you have so many nice memories of your husband.

dinthebeast said...

The bears are on the move again and the sun filtered through the wildfire smoke is a strange color of orange.
What did that have to do with anything?
Not a damn thing, but perhaps the image can distract you from your grief for a moment.
Sometimes words don't do the thing I would like them to do if they could, and this seems to be one of those times, so let me just say may you be feeling much better very soon, or at least better.
I have faith that you will.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

gz said...

Yes, let it out don't bottle it up.
Writing about how you feel and what you are going through will help yourself and others.
((0))

baili said...

i want to thank you dear Jenny for having courage to share your heart with your reader friends ,i think it bring us closer as human being and bloggers when we trust with such personal and intense feelings. i feel good in manner that i could learn how exactly you are feeling at the moment .

i saw my own mother crying terribly for her son who died many years ago ,then as teenage it was little difficult to understand many times that how can one lament on death that took place ten twelve years back .she was not like this all the times .she would be busy with daily house chores , chat to us ,smile and laugh even .but there were times when it seemed that made me feel that despite of all her routine normal life she had some room inside her where those cries and complains and ocean of tears was being held and when ever it got little push from world outside her it burst out and flooded through her eyes and words.

therefore i feel that grief depends on what kind of relationship we shared with our loved ones,the more deeper it is the stronger is hold of grief on us .
grief also depends how sensitive we are as human ,not everyone feels same way surly .

this reading made me cry though i try to hold back because i too feel that the room i am storing my stuff must not broke out as i am sure if it does there will be not just tears but a serious damage .
the beauty of fall is strange ,it makes me sad without any reason and i feel in love with such sadness that seems to widen my horizons by graving my heart and thoughts.i can understand that as a first fall after your husband it will be hard for you my precious friend . it's okay to go with flow because restraining can be disastrous for your mental health.
good that you have found an author who's words have ability to sooth your heart to some extent.
thinking of you with heart filled with prays and best wishes!
stay strong my friend as you are always!
hugs and tons of healing energy to you!

Steve Reed said...

Jenny, this is such a poignant post and I am so sorry you're enduring all these very human feelings. This conveys your deep sense of loss perhaps more than anything else you've written. Just know that we're all here with you and I'm glad you feel like you're getting what you need from your reading and your online community.

Mary said...

Grief is a solo journey and no two trips are the same. And only you can decide how to navigate it. Trial and error--finding out what works for you and what doesn't. Coming here to share your feelings can be cathartic because you know the majority of folks reading care about you and perhaps other folks may learn a thing or two about a life lived. May you find comfort in good memories of your husband and your life together even though they may sometimes bring on the tears of remembrance. That's okay, too. Sending virtual hugs your way. xo

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

There are so many kinds of pain and they are all valid. I think this advice is equally for you and for me.
Thank you. This was a stitch in time!
I do not know how it feels to loose a husband. But I so understand your thoughts of having your privacy invaded. I think that good and bad days will continue chasing one another.
It's good to hear that the barriers to your mothers' wants and needs are working now.
I hope and pray for you that the good days of sweet memories and gratitude for what you two had together will gradually grow to be the majority.

Marie Smith said...

Jenny, I can hear the pain in your words. Such a huge loss. I hope the memories will be more comforting soon rather than reminders of what you’ve lost. Waves of grief are overwhelming sometimes. It is good they recede a bit. Sending a hug across the Strait.

Janie Junebug said...

Today is a good day for me. Yesterday morning was rough, but the afternoon was great. I hope you will have days with some good parts and the good parts will increase and the pain will lessen somewhat. You loved him, darling donkey. You really and truly loved him. That loss is not a pain that disappears. Your writing is beautiful because it's filled with your love for him.

Love,
Janie

e said...

Sending you hugs...

Joan (Devon) said...

You are grieving Jenny and I can only guess at what you are feeling right now. Perhaps if you'd had time to grieve properly for your husband instead of having to deal with your mother's state of health and her problems straight away you would have come to some sense of acceptance of what had happened. You didn't have time when he was ill to think much past the caring and nursing which your husband's condition required, so when he passed away you were left floundering.

Also not helping you is the fact that your husband's clients are now a continual reminder of your husband not being here to deal with them himself. My Dad died when I was 15 and I was working in a funeral service office. He had died in his sleep of his only heart attack, aged 46. Obviously we did his funeral and there were paper reminders of his funeral and my manager thought I should transfer to another department within the society, but I decided for whatever reason, that I didn't want to go to the other department. A few months later I left to work in a building society which was a lot different to the funeral service. Seeing your husband's name regularly must be upsetting.

Let us, your blog friends, be the shoulder you need to cry on. We'll always be here. Or if you'd rather I can give you my e-mail address. :-). Take care Jenny.

Susan said...

I appreciate your honesty regarding your feelings. I think your words will help a lot of people.

Diane Henders said...

I'm so sorry you're going through this, but it's good to hear that you're slowly finding sources of healing. Wishing you peace and comfort.

Mr. Shife said...

Lots and lots of hugs from me to you, jenny_o. Hang in there, take care, be kind to yourself and we are here for you.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, 37p; I can feel the support in the comments.

jenny_o said...

I had never thought of grief as chronic pain but now that you say it I think you are right. Thank you for your caring and support, dear friend.

jenny_o said...

Oddly enough it was your reply to one of my comments recently on your blog that helped me push ahead and open up on the pain I am feeling, Andrew, and I thank you for that.

jenny_o said...

Good thoughts do help, please know that. Thanks, Mimi.

jenny_o said...

It does help to write although in the back of my mind is always the thought that I do not want to drive readers away by repeating my grief over and over. I guess if it's too much people don't have to read. I can hear and feel your caring and I thank you for your support, Bonnie.

jenny_o said...

You're right, kylie: a counsellor can't live the pain for me - no one can. We all have to go through our own pain and learn how to live with it. When you are alone it is a very lonely process. Before I always had my husband to share my feelings with. Ironic now. Thank you for your support.

jenny_o said...

Thank you for your friendship, Joanne. I'm glad I emailed you at that time and that it helped. Things seemed to have turned out well in that respect.

jenny_o said...

I hope you're right, Red - I would like to think that someone else's way might be easier after reading about my experience. And it has helped me to write about it.

jenny_o said...

Hello Cathy, I'm glad you left a comment today. Thank you for your kind wishes.

jenny_o said...

Strange how tears help, isn't it? Thanks, River.

jenny_o said...

You may feel your words don't do what you'd wish but actually they are doing just fine. Thank you, Doug. I'm sorry you are still having wildfires there. It must be very worrying.

jenny_o said...

It has helped me and I hope you're right that it might help someone else. I know that reading other people's thoughts have helped me, so ... I hope. Thanks for your supportive comments, gz.

jenny_o said...

Ah, baili, you have such a gift for describing things; when you write about your mother's room of pain and tears - and your own room - it so wonderfully describes my feelings too. I can go about my daily life when I am around others but that room is always there inside me, and when I am alone it expands to overshadow everything else. I hope your room of emotions is one that you can process a bit at a time and not cause that damage to you by all coming out at once. Thank you, as always, for your perceptive thoughts and kind wishes, and I wish them for you too.

jenny_o said...

It really is a comfort to have this community as a supportive and kind place to be and to write about the things that are important to me. I do worry about doing that too often so I have tried so far not to do so. Maybe I have to get over that feeling. People can make their own choice to read or not to read.

jenny_o said...

A solo journey - yes, exactly. Even with family and real-life friends and blogging friends to listen, a person still has to feel the pain alone. That's true of any pain in life, I think. I'm glad to have good memories but as yet they are still a source of sadness. I hope that will change somehow, some day. Thank you for your support, Mary.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Charlotte. I'm not there yet but I, too, hope those memories and gratitude will eventually be the predominant feelings.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, Marie. It's been more painful than I expected - and I expected it to be rough.

jenny_o said...

I'm glad you were having a good day when you wrote this. I did read, but have not yet commented on, the day you had previous to that. It had to have been very difficult and draining for you. You are a good example for me, to embrace the good and not just mourn the sad. Thank you for your kind thoughts, Janie Junebug.

jenny_o said...

Thank you, e - gratefully received. And hugs in return.

jenny_o said...

You were very young when you lost your dad, Joan. That had to have been so very hard on you and your family too.

It was about this time last year that my husband was receiving treatment but his condition had declined dangerously by then. We were still hoping he would have more time. Looking back at a year ago carries great sadness for me because I know now just how little time he actually had left. And he was so patient and strong through everything.

Thank you for your kind words. I would love to have your email address simply because you have no blog and there is no other way I can keep in touch with you. You can email me at: newjennyo@gmail.com

jenny_o said...

They've helped me, and I do hope they can help someone else be prepared or feel less alone. Thanks, Susan.

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Diane - good thoughts are always a comfort. I imagine you have a keen understanding of grief, having lost your mom at an early age.

jenny_o said...

Hanging in there, Mr. S. Thanks so much for the support and kindness you always send my way.

LL Cool Joe said...

This post broke my heart. I could sense your pain reading this. I hope you get more good days than bad, but I know that will take time. Big hugs to you.

Cherie said...

i'm sending a gentle hug Jenny. My heart is aching for you.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Grief clings. It weighs us down. Chokes us. Minimizes us. I ache for you, my friend and wish for you only good things.
Only good things.

jenny_o said...

Working on that, Joey - thanks for your understanding and kindness. Hugs in return - I hope your challenges are not wearing you down too much. You have your plate full.

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Cherie.

jenny_o said...

Thanks, Diane. It does indeed feel like an actual weight, doesn't it?