Saturday, March 15, 2008

Processing and Stages

I have been thinking of this a lot the past few days. Processing Grief and the stages of grief they tell us we go through. I belief each person's grief is entirely their own, not definable. I have never put much stock in stages such as denial and acceptance. Each loss, each life is more complex than that.

Several people have asked me where is the anger. Those who know me in real life and/or know the whole story, accept that I will never feel anger at my husband. I am not capable. The words I have written here, the cause, the hurt, the reaction are truly just a slice of a horrendous story. An almost unbelievable story. My husband falls outside of the normal psychological makeup of one who is lost this way. He is not "textbook" which is why I have always disliked easy answers for life's troubles. His decision was wrong, especially in light of the situation and the people it involved. I am not deluding myself here. I have close friends and family who could verify this for me. This is not Laura, not wanting to face the truth. When I say the story reads like something out of a fantastical novel, I am not exaggerating...much. It is also why it is sometimes hard to write here and read some comments because I haven't, and cannot, give the full story here. Suffice to say, if you knew the whole story, you could not find yourself angry at my beloved either. In so many ways, he was always the boy (the boy abandoned) who spent his life helping, and trying to make things better for others. And this was the only time he was wrong with that intention. This was not a man who wanted to leave me. Again, no delusions here.

James and Nik went out on a date together. She asked him if he would like to go and see "Horton Hears a Who" with her tonight and out for dinner. It was nice of her to ask and he was excited about it so I paid their way. I hope they have a good time. Sitting here, alone in the house, is a glimpse at the future. A future with them off on their own. I confess it scares me because where I had imagined there would be quiet nights spent with my love...there will be huge empty nights, filled with books and loneliness.

For now that is how I feel. My love for my husband... my family...what we had...was so big, I kicked out anything else that interfered. I guess I must find myself as a one now. As a just me. And that sucks.


TGLB said...

I'm glad that there are those who know the whole story with you, and that you do not have to carry it all alone. That you have to carry it at all is burden enough.

I think the "Stages of Grief" is one of the most misunderstood, misapplied pieces of pop-psych to ever escape into the general populace, who likes to put things neatly into boxes. Anyone who has grieved knows there's nothing tidy about it. The paradox is that while each of our experiences of grief is unique, the experience of grieving is universal.

BetteJo said...

Even the people who know the whole story and who love you cannot tell you how to grieve, whether to be angry or heartbroken or accepting. Unfortunately this is a journey you take - in part - alone. Even with all who want to help you and give you advice and empathy - this is your experience and your life.

But having said that - I do believe that whatever path you need to take to get there - you will find a way to live again. I hope with all my heart that I am right.

Anonymous said...

We readrs would like to know the whole story too...maybe one day you will share..I am totally confused, but hold you in my prayers nightly..maybe I need to re read this from the start...take care of YOU and YOURS

rachd said...

I asked my counselor about the "stages" of grief the other day. I asked if it was expected that everyone would hit every stage. She said that yes, at some point, at some time eventually we hit every stage, but not necessarily in any given order.

That said, I don't think the anger is directed at anyone in particular, in your case, James. I find myself irrationally p'd off at people for the stupid things they say. That's my anger. I'm not angry at God, or at Han or at Sarah or anyone else who was on the beach the day Hannah died. Nope, I get royally peeved at idiots who say such moronish things as "You should move on. He/she would have wanted it." Or, "You're so strong! I'd still be in bed." as if they loved their child more than I loved Han and would therefore grieve harder.

Rationally, I know that is *NOT* what folks mean, but that's not the way my mind hears it and the anger comes gushing forth.

See, I DO have anger. I just didn't know it until the counselor pointed it out to me. Who knew??

And, I'm glad there are those you can confide in, Laura. You need sounding boards and support.

I hope Sunday is a better day for you.

Many HUGS!

rachd said...

Hi, anonymous. While, yes, many of us *would* love to know the whole story, it isn't any of our business. If Laura wanted to post the story, she would have by now. However, she is protecting those she loves as this is a VERY public forum. Should the time ever come that it is appropriate or right or she just feels the need to share it with us, I'm sure she will.

Until then, we need to be here to offer support and understanding the best that we can. I'm not trying to sound harsh or judgmental, I'm just speaking from the point of view of someone who has also lost a loved one.

Grief is such a personal, private experience it is hard to do it so publicly on a blog. Ultimately, this is Laura's space to say what needs to be said and we are just voyeurs.

(Sorry to hijack your comments, Laura...)

haylee said...

Laura: I think I know what you mean about excluding things outside of the relationship ... while I have lots of "small f" friends, I am married to my best friend and he is who I choose to be with at every opportunity. Add to that the fact that we are both home-bodies, our family is our #1 priority, our appreciation and longing for quiet evenings at home and it does leave us vulnerable to an unfillable void. Having acknowledged that, I really don't know of an alternative cuz I like the status quo -- an indescribable warm, cozy state of being -- a quiet satisfaction. Hope that makes some sense. It does to me:-)

I am delighted to hear of Nik & James's "date". Hope they had a blast.


rachd said...

Okay, rereading my first comment and obviously it's time for bed. I meant to say anger at Leonard. DUH!! I'm SOOOO sorry, especially to sweet James. What a doll he is. He is going to be SUCH a heart breaker! :o)

Laura said...

I figured as much Rachael. I hate when I comment on somebody's blog and then I go back and see a big mistake, but then I don't want to delete it because then it looks insincere. In a nutshell, I worry too much. Sleep well!

Kathy said...

The empty house and lonely feelings suck Laura. So Sorry. Maybe it will ease just a bit when sunshine, warmth and longer days show up. Don't you just love it when the older sibling invites the younger out? I hope the movie was fun for them. My hopes for a peaceful Sunday for you. Hugs.

Linda said...

First of all, THANKS RACHAEL!!
We do not need to know anything that you, Laura, don't want to divulge. It doesn't matter....
My heart goes out to you each and every day--your loss is something that takes my breath away because I cannot imagine...
I pray for you everyday-I pray that each day you find whatever it takes to get through another day.
GRIEF is soooo personal..I've lost both parents,a brother, and an ex-husband (the father of my children)
and NOBODY could touch me on how I was to process the feelings. Even those that had lost loved ones and said "I know how you feel"--NO YOU DON'T, (thank you very much) every relationship had different feelings,and nobody knew how I felt but me...
I still grieve (and although I have a new husband that I love very,very much), the father of my children is always "my husband" in my dreams....and when I tell Bruce about those dreams, he always holds me...he lets me cry and grieve, s.t.i.l.l.


Nancy said...

Laura, I understand what is said about the stages of grief but I can honestly attest that I did not *SEE* them until I was at the acceptance part. When I was going through it (for six lost pregnancies [7 babies] over a span of 5 years, I was oblivious to the so called "stages". It was only after I worked through the pain that I realized that I had indeed, suffered through all the stages of grief--they are just difficult to see when you are 'in' them. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your children.


Angie said...

Love, just remember, you do not owe anyone any explanations. You do not have to "explain" or worry about people being confused. You get to share only what you chose here. And remember when you feel like you are "dumping" on your readers - Most of us feel touched by your words, not dumped upon!
Big FAT Ginormous HUGS

Marshamlow said...

I wish that there was something I could do to ease your pain a little. I do hope that by the time your children are grown and out of the house, your grief will have shifted into something different than it is today. While you will never be able to have the future you imagined and you were robbed of those peaceful retired years with just the two of you, perhaps someday you will find yourself on a different path. When the grief is not longer a hot burning pain that is so central to every moment. Perhaps it wont be the perfect future but it might not be a future that is as empty and painful as when you are home alone today. I think it would be very overwhelming to experience what you are experiencing and then imagine that it will go on for eternity only that in a few years it will be just you alone and in pain. Perhaps that is just part of the process, I have no idea. I am sending hugs and support.

I sometimes want to blog about how difficult it is for me with my very frustrating and willful youngest child. All of the advice and criticism I receive from people sometimes is too much for me to bare.

Karen said...

Laura, I hope you do not feel as if you are dumping on those of us who read your blog. We come here to see how you are doing, otherwise we wouldn't keep coming back.
I hope that being able to share your pain here eases it just a tiny bit.

Donna said...

Still, quietly listening little love...hughugs

becomingkate said...

Each journey is unique in it's own way, that's for sure.


Nance said...

Oh, hell. Grief is very, very personal. You can't explain it and you shouldn't feel you need to.

Laurie said...

Hey Laura,

I have to agree with Rachael in that we are all voyeurs reading what you write here. And it is none of our business to pry for what is not said here. I just feel so bad for the pain you are in, it is BIG, and I hurt for you. I've never experienced it, nor do I ever want to. (No Offense). I can't imagine losing my love of 40 years, nope, can't imagine. We are growing older together and are grandparents now. We never thought we would make it this far, but we have and that is a scary thing to think of losing now.
I think about it all the time as you had mentioned you dreaded it. This is the only way I can relate to what you are going through, so I pray for you to get through, one day at a time. You have taught me so much through your honesty, and I take it to heart for the time I may face in my future.
I hope your kids "date" was a fun one. James must have felt so honored to be invited into the world of his Big Sister.:)

Love you Laura, and I hope this being Sunday, it is a kind one to you.

Laurie in Ca.

Ortizzle said...

I'm with Nance. It is totally personal, totally individual. You don't need to explain anything... unless you find it cathartic, and then that's O.K., but not to justify anything to anybody.

Things will get better. You have to believe that deep down, even though it does not seem possible now.

Anonymous said...


Last night I watched a show on suicide and the whole time I was thinking of you. I was especially thinking of you when they said that the loved ones are three times more likely to commit suicide afterwards. I will offer up extra prayers...

So Nik and James' date! How wonderful! What a wonderful mother you MUST be for them to be so close.

Thinking of you always,

Courtney said...

How wonderful for Nik and James to go on a date!

Honey, if there is anything I can do, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand what you're saying when you say that grief is so individual. However, I can't imagine the circumstances surrounding Leonard's death that don't leave you at least a little angry. People always say "suicide is the selfish choice." And I guess it's so hard for many of us to understand why you don't feel anger towards him, when he's the one that's left you feeling so bad. HOWEVER, this is your story, and NONE of our business if you choose not to share it. I just wanted to explain where I was coming from when asking in the past if you were angry. I have a friend who continues to deal with her husband's suicide (which happened 2 months before their first child was born) and it seems like she can't get past the anger stage, even though it's been a couple of years. Everyone and everyone's story and life experiences are so different. Thanks for sharing yours with us. Leornard sounds like he's definitely something special...what a tribute to him that you share him with all of us.

Ronni said...

The day of Jim's suicide, a former sister-in-law called me and told me that killing himself showed Jim's contempt for me and for Brendan--the ones who found him.

I had to hand the phone to somebody else, because that was like being slapped. I know she meant to be helpful, but she wasn't.

"A future with them off on their own. I confess it scares me because where I had imagined there would be quiet nights spent with my love...there will be huge empty nights, filled with books and loneliness."

--that's what I am looking at, too. Brendan, my last chick in the nest, will be off to college this fall, and then what?

You have a few years to get ready for that one. Take your time...