Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Long Wait

I have not been a very good grieving person. I wrote twenty thank-you notes in August. I have no idea where I put them. I have lost my ability to cry which is like a normal person saying, "I have lost my ability to pee." Every time a thought about grief starts sneaking into my consciousness I squish it like a spider. I don't have much to say because I am wrapped up in trying not to think about it. And when I try to think about it... nothing comes.

People have been so kind to me. I call them the Grief Abatement Patrol. They have taken me to movies, to the musem, cleaned up my yard, brought me food, taken me to karaoke, given me hugs, sent cards, cuddled my children, called, stopped by, even made me some mix CD's. It is really, really nice. But I am having trouble remembering it, absorbing it, showing my gratitude. I think something inside me died this go round and all that is left is a shell.

I have become a grief zombie. Zombies are no good at thank you notes.

I have watched my family and others who are feeling the pain and shock at my uncle's sudden death by his own hand. I try to mimic them. These are people who remember to buy groceries. These people seem to have a full range of emotions although they are predominantly sad and confused with an occasional angry outburst. These people seem to be able to speak and don't look like zombies. They smell good.

It is hard to write accurately what it feels like to be a grief zombie because the core of my zombie life is not having feelings. I say I try not to think about it, but what I mean is that when thoughts of sadness start floating in an emotionless voice says, "Not yet." It is not conscious so much as zombie survival instinct kicking in. I can no more will myself to feel, to not feel, or to concentrate than I can will myself to cry.

I used to see zombies like me all the time when I did grief counseling for a living. It was always a creepy thing to watch from the outside. The grief zombies I worked with never knew they were zombies. They thought they weren't upset. They thought they were handling their loss surprisingly well. They thought that they kept forgetting things and losing stuff because of some medication they were on. They never ever thought that their emotions were now undead: not functioning as alive, not yet dead.

The grief zombies were some of my toughest cases. They refused help. They had car accidents and fell down stairs. They lost interest in the usual joys of life. They tended to become ill, some of them terminally. And still, they did not know they were zombies.

So, I guess it is a good thing to know. Knowing I'm a grief zombie allows me to make a blog post to help explain why people aren't getting thank you cards or may get them in November. It means I don't have to worry about a Halloween costume. It takes the pressure off at meal time - I'm not hungry and no longer interested in food not because I am sick... I am just undead. And best of all, I can joke about it, because if I can laugh I can cry.

Speaking of crying, I have been able to cry twice in the past two weeks. Since we are in the middle of the High Holy days I have gone to some Jewish services. And I have managed to cry during the Mourner's Kaddish. It just sneaks in. I guess zombies can speak Hebrew.

If I were my grief counselor I would say, "Keep going, Zombie Girl. It takes awhile. If you cry at Shabbat services and no other time... go to Shabbat services. There is something in you that is trying to get out. You will come back to life but you need to give it time. Sometimes it is a Long Wait."

Zombie Girl Me would then tell Grief Counselor Me to shove some things where the sun don't shine and then have a "Long Wait" before getting them removed. Just because I am undead does not mean that I've lost my sass. I've lost my thank you cards, the stamps, some of my passwords, my allergy medicine, some bills, many shoes, my appetite, half a dozen partially read books, and my coherence.

But I got my Hebrew, my Grief Abatement Patrol, and my sass.


ms. kitty said...

I love you, Zombie Girl, even though we hardly know each other.

Death Becomes Her said...

Thank you, Ms. Kitty. After all these blogging years, I know you better than some of my neighbors! And I love you,too.

goodwolve said...

I think eventually you return to the land of the living. Until then, stay away from the urge to eat brains. And by the way, grief sucks - with or without the GAP working double time. Hugs from far away.

goodwolve said...

I think eventually you return to the land of the living. Until then, stay away from the urge to eat brains. And by the way, grief sucks - with or without the GAP working double time. Hugs from far away.

Incognito said...

My heart goes out to you; I understand completely the emotions or lack thereof you are dealing with in this grieving process. I turned into a Zombie Girl thirty years ago when my mother died.

Keep putting the words down; time will pass and your heart will bloom again. Peace and love and healing.

kloppski said...

I can relate in many ways. Experienced something similar when my father dad, on and off for over a year (and not enlightened enough to seek counseling or drugs...), and again after my divorce, when I was able to cry, but nothing else seemed to matter and it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other, much less be 'present' for my daughter as we muddled through the adjustment. (and I 'wanted' the divorce...)

I'm glad for you that you have the writing and are sharing here. Do 'not' let any form of guilt creep in as those you love do what they can to help you. They are also helping themselves, as they express their love for you and try to ease their pain of seeing you in pain. Let that love wash over you, like cooling water on a hot summer day. Say thanks, as you would to the water, and know they hear you. Holding you close in my thoughts and heart.


Ira C said...

Hello beautiful:"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." -Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Add to this rich mixture a writing talent that is brilliant by any standard, and all of us foutunate enough to be within your sphere are nourished.