We all die.
Before we die, the hope is, that we live a bit of life.
Some travel, some buy a home, have children, find a career, raise children, stay married, divorce, have affairs, change careers, learn to cook, despise cooking, adopt one or five two or four legged children, scream at the top of our lungs, or hold it and press it all down.
This is the part of life we don’t speak of, it’s also the part of life that no one really likes to talk about.
The messy underbelly of life.
Let me tell you sweet peas, this is life. It is not the picture perfect face(s) that we share on the book of faces, it is neither the tragedy and suffering of the world, and the dying and dead children that are flashed across our media screens.
It is us, real, naked, pooping, farting, fucking, breathing, snoring and misunderstanding(s).
There is a middle ground to life. One that we don’t share so we have become unfamiliar with its terrain, which is often scary, steep, low, hot, cold, muggy and freezing.
Death has defined my life. It has been one of the forces that shaped me into he living breathing, awkwardly designed creature you now behold as me.
From age 20 to age 28, my life was filled with death and dying, one loved one, family member and child at a time, but it was death.
All death, all the time.
I am not alone, I know this, we all experience death.
We don’t share out loud, what it’s like to watch someone you love die, we don’t discuss it, it’s horrifying and mesmerizing, all in one, a life well lived or released from psychic or physical pain.
We don’t discuss what a dead person feels like.
Or when you are laying next to them at the morgue so you can say goodbye, I love you, I will always love you and now my life is fucked up because I have no fucking clue what happened to you.
They live on Planet I am GONE. I live on Planet Earth where I MISS YOU. The planets circle each other for a time. They tend to be symbiotic. Then they release one another and it’s at that point when the shit hits the fan.
When we lose a child, we live on planet I Lost a Child, or Planet I lost my Mother or Father, or Husband or Wife. Our reality is altered and yet we are to still function in a society that does not address the dysfunction of our daily life.
When the death is complicated or unexpected, we have no clue where to begin and when it ends, if it ever ends.
The mystery of life is that is slows down, speeds up and then stretches right in front of our eyes, it stretches out and spreads in front of us, questioning us as we seek to find the answer to the mystery, one in which we will never find the answer for, to and from. The mystery it now lives within us, and we spend so much time overturning every single stone, to find the reason, the why, the answer to our what seems like unending pain.
My death stories are also filled with life. The moments before the death, their life, my life, your life…the time suspended in the in between, the underworld of grief, wondering if while you are swimming alone struggling if it will ever not be this struggle.
My first husband died and I fell apart in my apartment with my best friend, having no real clue what this would mean and what it meant, it was an unexpected car accident. That morning, when I left, I told him I loved him and that I would be home. Sideways, it hit me, and to be honest I don’t know that I recovered. I had just lost my mom, my grandmom, my daughter.
Not this, not now. That became my mantra, not me, not again, not me, not again.
I’m here to tell you, this is grief. Your grief, my grief, our grief.
We have to live it, we have to be in it and we have to drown out and say NO to the voices who would have us not grieving, so that they are comfortable with that distance.
One of the most notable features of being around death, is the hurry up, get them food, get them shelter, get them what they need, then get the hell out.
Death, it’s not contagious, it is just wordless for most.
Some feel that their words are cliche, lame and often horrible, and yes, sometimes they are.
It might be consoling for others to share that it is “all in God’s plan, but I’ve stated to people, “that might fucking bring you comfort, it sadly does nothing for me and my grief.” Yep, I said it, out loud. It was a conversation stopper indeed. But I didn’t want to hear another person tell me it was meant to be this way.
How the fuck do I know what way it is or was supposed to be. I am not gOd nor do I pretend ever to know the mind of said gOd. All I know is that my heart is open, bleeding and I can’t seem to make sense of the most obvious things in my life.
When we address death as that which is constant, happening, and not going to stop happening, even our own.
We can address it differently with others. Many who share their “gOd belief, or their it happened for a reason bullshit”, they have not experienced a death that so radically shifted their life, that in a split second, everything, and I mean everything changed.
All at once, what was before, is really this hazy and surreal place, that you were happy, that this person, laughed with you, cried with you, if a child, vomited on you and told you the worst jokes that lit up your world, they made love to you and fucked you, they cared for you and fought with you, but that is now gone.
And even if you had time to grieve, the brain doesn’t work that way. Grief is visceral and bleeding while still living your life.
Crying, screaming, beating my hands until the bled as I was wrestling with gOd as much as I was my losses and deaths over the years.
There is a descent and an ascension to death. One that pulls us down and we may have to do that, allow those closest to you to understand when to throw you the line, and pull you back, or you’ll know when to arise again and face that light of your own.
Knowing it will not be the same, it cannot be the same and attempting to bypass death, we can’t and when we try to, it keeps the grief in a neutral place, not a healing place.
I live in the shadows of death, I share my experiences as they come up, as most people don’t, death no longer scares me, it just opened me to the realization that my heart and my soul understand that there is still, yet, life in death.
There is as we say, life after death for those on Planet GRIEVING, that there is a new life, and one that meshes and coalesces with the old life, the one that is on Planet EARTH, with visits to Planet GRIEVING.
Making meaning of the deaths in your life, any way you know how and feel compelled by your soul to make meaning. It does not and may not make sense to anyone else, that is the way grief is, like life, it runs it course, and runs through us like the blackberry vines run through the earth and every particle of water runs through the ocean. We too, ride those moments, of such joy and rapture. Such heaven and pure hell, to put it nicely. The suffering is there, we are to make meaning of it, by any means necessary. Make your meaning.
When I experienced death, I was young and I had no clue what to do, I was useless to anyone and everyone that came close to me.
I pushed everyone away as quickly as I could, my temper was that of heat lightning and I was left alive, and I had no clue as to why I was still here, still alive and yet, in so much pain. I was alone as I was young and many of my friends they had no way to understand how to deal with me or even address me, as I was making that deep, dark descent into the underworld, for a bit.
That descent lasted over ten years and there were others that would happen after that. I would lay in my bed and cry, loud, sobbing, wracking, world and window shattering crying. I would break every dish in my house, clean it up, break anything I could touch. I would argue with you, just to avoid the pain that was inside me. There are so many stories to share here, but I won’t.
I will share with you what helped me and helped others who have shared with me their stories.
Walk, I walked what seemed like to the ends of the earth. Remember Forest Gump as he ran, and just kept running, it’s kind of like that. I would walk, every day, every way I could. Walking made me focus on my grief and not my grief. It allowed me to smell fresh air and at the same time.
I cleaned, I cleaned my house a lot. It didn’t make me feel better, it didn’t make me feel worse, it actually made me feel like I had control over one small thing, that felt big, it felt good to do my dishes and not break them. I cleaned the cracks and crevices and I know it looked mad to people, but it organized my brain and allowed me to think without having to concentrate.
I’d love to say yoga and meditation saved me, but they did not, I did not have the capacity to sit still or move my body in such a way that would make sense. Instead, I took up reading and cross stitch. Things to do with my brain and my hands, I could move my hands and focus on creating something, even if it was the same word, fuck, fuck, fuck, written over and over in cross stitch scripts of choice.
I learned to love movies, all movies, but nothing that shared death, I had felt and seen enough. I ended up listening to Steve Martin albums, comedy specials became my go to, just so I could spend time laughing, not forcing the laugh, just holding the laughter within me.
I spent time immersed in writing, shitty poetry, distressed stories of anger and vitriol, but I wrote, I wrote all of that shit out of me, I wrote like my hands and heart were on fire. I wrote every scathing, heart wrenching detail of each death and the feelings that I felt with each. Once it was on the paper, it was out of me for a bit.
I allowed myself anger, I did not always allow it well, that is the truth. Anger is one of the emotions that was hard, I could feel it and it would spill out of me sideways, at those I loved, some left, I have a wagon of regrets that follow me still in my life. I have made all the amends I can and if the time and the space if offered, I will continue to amend that misdirected anger.
I allowed myself baths, and when I couldn’t take a bath I would soak my feet, just the feel of water was soothing to me, the feel of the water over my body, over my feet, it didn’t’ matter, it was just the ebb and flow of my breath and the water. It was a huge part of my healing.
If you are feeling any of this, leave a comment, a question, a concern.