Thursday, March 20, 2008

Embrace the sorrow

I've been struggling with grief for a long time. You folks hear it here and get more than anyone with the exception of my shrink.

I experience the sadness as a pack of dogs chasing me down the hallway and I manage to close the door, keeping them out. But they claw and claw and don't go away. Maybe I open the door a crack and toss them a bone (sic), but that only buys a few seconds and then there they are, clawing again. My only choice is to try to keep that door closed or go out the window...but there isn't one.

Grief has been a longtime companion for me, even before H got so sick. (Long story here, but I will spare all of you why I've carried a big ole bag o' grief since childhood.) But once he got so sick, the intensity has predictably risen.

So, I've tried to ignore it, medicate it away in a variety of ways, placate it, embrace a variety of addictive behaviors, deny it, and just generally not face it. Needless to say, this hasn't been an entirely successful and has cost me dearly in many, many ways.

I've been reading a great site,, which, among other things, encourages us to face our fears, grief, and other negative emotions, thus depriving them of their power over us. Embrace it and it loses its power.

What to do? Just feel the grief when it comes; don't try to medicate it away. Easy enough to say, but hard, at least, for me to do. How do I prompt the feelings when it is safe to do so? I mean, I can't just burst into tears at work (although I have) and H can't deal with me crying anymore…he feels helpless, as helpless as I feel about his health issues. And I only see my shrink once a week.

But there are so many sad songs about loss. I'm such a sucker for a sad song. Two of my favorite sad ones are a Diana Krall Live in Paris version of "Maybe You'll be There" and "Missing" by Everything but the Girl.

So, I’m listening to "Missing" while H is in the shower and I'm getting all teary.

Just as the plaintiff chorus comes, "And I miss you…oh... like the deserts miss the rain," H comes out of the shower, naked, and I see his silhouette coming out of the bathroom at the end of the dark hallway. He's using his cane to navigate the doorway and hallway corners. Shrunken legs, big distended belly, sunken chest, bouncing off the door jam, almost not catching himself, almost falling.

Like the deserts miss the rain.

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