I know, it’s been a bit since I’ve posted. Between vacations and recent family events, I have a serious case of, “don’t want to do anything,” which basically applies to anything unrelated to my children. If you’re my children, you’re all good. If you’re not, the line is over there.
My grandmother recently died. Her passing was not entirely unexpected. Even so, the speed at which it occurred served as a stark reminder of how temporal this gig on Earth actually is. We’re here for such a short time and gone for an eternity.
Several things are going through my mind right now and this post will be a bit eclectic. I’m going to create sections just to help me stay a little more on point.
THE PASSING OF A GENERATION
My grandmother was my last living grandparent. I think, more than anything, I am mourning this new lack of grandparents the most. I’ve tried to share this concept with other people, but I think people are a bit aghast that I’m not completely torn up over my grandmother’s death. What it comes down to are two things: 1. I was never that close to this grandmother, as she and my grandpa chose to move closer to my Aunt’s family; she didn’t spend much time with me; and 2. my grandmother had a really bad habit–she liked to compare me to my cousin and I was always lacking and “less than” him (I found out years later she did the same thing with him, comparing him to me). So there are two things working against my complete devastation that she’s gone.
Do not mistake me–I am sad. I loved her, even with her faults. And I am grieving her death. But I do not feel nearly the anguish and devastation I did when my other grandma passed away. That grandma was like my second mom; it took me over a year to get to a place where I could think of her and not burst into a torrent of tears.
I think, for me, my grief is made more awful by the guilt I feel that I’m not nearly as sad as I should be. And then it’s complicated further by the fact that she was my last grandparent. And even more further by the anger I feel that my other grandma couldn’t live a little bit longer (she died quite unexpectedly).
And no one–my mom being the only exception–wants to talk about these feelings with me. I get it. There’s a social contract around death and grieving and, really, people just don’t talk about it (or want you to, even if they offer their condolences). But I’m finding it hard to think, “Gosh, I have no more grandparents.” It makes me feel old and vulnerable. It makes me scared for my own children–will I live to see my grandbabies? My great-grandbabies? Will I be able to be the kind of mom and grandma whose survivors are devastated in their grief.
Gosh, I hope so!
I think, also, her death serves to remind me that we are here such a very short time. We spend a lot of this time on petty things and petty feelings–we should spend more of it loving one another. This life is all we get, so why waste it on sowing seeds of discord? Love more. Laugh more. Live more.
SOMETIMES, PEOPLE ARE JUST PLAIN RUDE
And so, my next train of thought. I am seriously about to pull my hair out with all the rude comments being made to my family on Facebook. Most of my friends have been gracious in their responses and support of me and I am very grateful for their mindfulness in expressing their support and condolences.
Then I go and read some of the things being written on other family members’ Facebook pages and I hear some of the things said to me by people who don’t know me well and it makes me want to scream.
“I lost my mom when I was young. You should be happy your mom lived so long instead of sad she’s dead.” (said to my Aunt)
“God needed her more than you do now.”
“If you accept Jesus, you’ll see her again in the Kingdom of God.”
“God has bigger plans for her.”
“She wasn’t in any pain when she died. You should be happy she died that way.”
I mean, seriously? Ser-i-ous-ly?
I get it–people are trying to express feelings that are difficult to express. It’s really hard. I understand that, I do. But no one–and I mean no one–who has just lost someone they love wants to hear that kind of claptrap. I wish people would just say, “I’m really sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?” and then shut up. Yes, I know, rude of me to say it. But if you don’t have something nice to say, please just shut up. And don’t tell anyone to be happy that someone they love is dead. That is just crass.
Yes, I realize this is probably me in the anger stage of grieving (and yes, I am grieving her death). And I am trying very hard not to reply in a curt, mean way because that isn’t the answer either. But it can be very hard to bite my tongue (or still my fingers on the key board) in this instance. So if you say something I find insensitive while I’m grieving, just consider this my public apology and also consider it a suggestion to go check out some other things you could say to grieving people in the future.
I SIMPLY DON’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING
The title of this section pretty much says it all. I have no desire–none–to do anything. If you’re my children, you are good go go. Your needs are being met. I am striving to be patient and mindful and kind to you. If you’re in my immediate family, I’m also doing my best to take care of your needs.
But my house! Oh, my house. It is a wreck. I weep just to think about what I’m going to have to do when I emerge from this funk. My outside responsibilities? Oh, those are so not being met. I just keep putting everything off. Just one.more.day. Or two. Or three. Or…well, you get the idea.
Why does grief make some people go into deep-clean mode and make me go into I-could-give-a-damn mode? It certainly doesn’t help to look around and see the endless variety of tasks which need to be done.
I’ll do them tomorrow.
In all seriousness, though, I do think that having children when you’re grieving does change the topography of grief. To me, grief is a selfish (but necessary) act. You grieve because you don’t want the person you’ve lost to be dead. You want them back. And you feel just awful about it, so you wallow in it a bit. You work the stages. You deny. You get angry. You negotiate. You kind of accept, then you do it again. And again. Until, finally, you do accept it and you can go on with your life. But with kids, who has time to be this selfish? I suppose it does happen, if you get into a deep enough depression, that you can’t get out of it. But for me, I am finding that I simply to not have time to be fully selfish in my grief. I’ve got kids who need my care and they aren’t going to wait 30 minutes for mommy to get her butt in gear in the morning. Yes, I’ve explained to them what’s going on, but it’s all very abstract for them. They never met their great-grandma and we were not able to travel back for the funeral. Frankly, they were much more upset (and understanding) about our dog dying, but that’s to be expected really, given the circumstances.
But then I wonder–is part of my “ennui” in this loss directly correlated with the fact that I simply do not have time for this? And if I don’t have time now, when is this grief doing to wake up and bite me in the butt?
Because even though grief may be selfish, it IS necessary. Grieve now or pay later is pretty much what I’ve learned about the grieving process. So, I’m trying to make space to grieve and think about all these complicated feelings I have that no one wants to talk about.
And those are my thoughts for today. I’m trying to be a better person throughout all of this, truly I am. And I am trying to treasure each day and become a more mindful and conscientious parent and partner. Really, I am trying.
This life is too precious to do anything else but try to make it the best life I can. If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that.