Let’s be real about it, grief is weird. And “they”, whoever they are, say there’re seven stages of grief. Shock and Denial, Pain and Guilt, Anger and Bargaining, Depression Reflection and Loneliness, The Upward Turn, Reconstruction and Working Through, and Acceptance and Hope.
Six days later, I tend to disagree with this number. I think it should be higher. Or at least have some sub stages.
April 9, 2015 at 4:05pm my Dad drew a last shallow breath and then he was gone. Just like that. GONE from physical life. Now as a believer, I believe his next breath was free of the horrible pain, stress, misery, and sickness he’d been in for a year and nine months. I believe with all my heart his next breath carried the perfumes of heaven, I have to, or I’ll go insane.
But in that moment, he was still gone from us. So, I say that the experts are overlooking some critical parts of grief no one warns you about.
“Vice around the ribs”
There’s those first crippling moments where you go deaf and blind. There’s a horrible ringing in your ears that just won’t stop.
In that moment, I couldn’t see or hear. Or breathe. As if maybe the passage of death into the next life by someone you love has a fee. They ride your stolen breath, pushed by your speeding heartbeats, straight into the arms of heaven. Maybe that’s the price.
When you think you can’t possibly cry one more tear. When your eyeballs are so full of grit they scrape and burn from every blink. Guess what, you’ll still be able to squeeze one more big old fat tear out. And it hurts. And it will burns. And it won’t stop. And you need the good Puffs with lotion.
“Lack of Stimuli”
Walking out of that room for the last time, my footsteps made no sound on the tiles. I talked to my family. Responded. Put one foot in front of the other. Once we reached the lobby and stepped outside, I found I had no ability to feel the wind on my skin, smell the flowers blooming around the hospital or enjoy the awesome grill smell of the restaurants down the street, or the sun on my face. Every voice sounded like it was traveling through water. I knew they were there, I’d thought about them earlier in the week, heard their voices clear before, but nothing registered in that moment.
“Random moments of going crippled”
Something odd happened to my knees. When the battering sound of his breath slowing had beat my eardrums to the point I had to run, I’d just be walking and boom, go down. I couldn’t stand anymore. Luckily, I didn’t fall most of time because hospitals have lots of chairs and railings.
Now the strings have been cut from one whole side of my life. I’m forever that broken doll on the side that belonged to my Dad. Collapsing, flopping, and floundering for a new normal without him to hold that side up for me.
A hole opened when he left. A very dark place, deep inside that turned everything inside out. The wet, raw, tender things were all ripped from their safe warm spot to be plopped down where they’re never supposed to be. Left exposed. Bleeding. Drying in stale hospital air that shouldn’t ever touch them and changing things that aren’t ready to be changed. Forcing old things into new awful things. I have no idea what those pieces will become or if they'll survive the process on the side of light. Only time will tell.
So far, I think this one was the worst.
Now I’m sure there will be others that I’ll add to this list as time goes on.
So if you message me and I don’t answer, I could be stuck in “Mute-ism” that day.
If you ask me a question and my answer is so crazy angry you think I've lost my marbles, I apologize now for being stuck in “Rage” that day.
Neighbors, I’ll try my best to keep my “Breaking Things” on my side of the property line.
And if “Inability to Stop Screaming” (which is totally possible) shows up, I’ll invest in earplugs for you all.
My Dad was our family’s pivot point and our true North. Without him, our normal will never be as bright or right again. I see him in so many thing about my own boys so he does live on in us and that is a kind of comfort. I imagine it will be a bigger one later when I learn to live with the rawness better.
You all can’t know how much every message, call, text and email means. Even when I don’t have the ability to answer, please don’t stop. And thank you.