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.