Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Mourning

Mourning is an icky word. People don't like to talk about it. We'll discuss intimate sexual details with each other before we'll share the emotional soup that comes from mourning.

I know this to be true. First hand.

We're not taught how to deal with another person's mourning, much less how to experience it ourselves. Ironic, since loss is inevitable for all of us.

Losses, before we can "get over" them or get beyond them, must be mourned. Mourning is the step that allows us to acknowledge that something monumental has just happened - a rug has been pulled out from under our feet.

Yet, no one tells us:
--Mourning will be painful. Physically painful.
--You will want to cry, but you may not be able to. When it really hits you, it might just be at a most inappropriate, inconvenient time.
--You might also want to laugh. Expect to feel guilt every time you laugh while you're mourning, because because there's no possible reason for you to find humor in anything when the entire world has just crumbled around you.
--You will feel hollowed out. Literally. Hollow. As if someone has scooped out everything in your torso with a giant melon-baller. It will amaze you that your lungs are still managing to take in air.
--You will want to sleep when you should be awake and you'll be wide awake when you should be sleeping.
--You will want someone to listen. And you won't be able get the words to come out when and if they do.
--You will simultaneously want to be held and left alone.
--Nothing will taste good.
--People won't know how to act around you. They won't be real. They will treat you as if you're fragile. You are, but you don't need to be treated that way.
--People will ask you how you are doing. This is rhetorical. They mostly want to hear, "I'm okay... hanging in there." They don't want to hear, "Well, yesterday I cried for 45 minutes because the coffee filter collapsed and grounds got into the pot of coffee. And I also spent an hour totally pissed off and yelling at the walls. I stood in the shower without soaping myself until the water got cold because... well... I just forgot."
--The first flower arrangement you receive will be touching. By the time you receive the 4th one, you'll just find it annoying.
--There will be a lot of anger in your sorrow. A lot. Anger at that person for leaving. Anger at the world for not understanding. Anger at the grocery store cashier for not having a clue that you're going through the impossible as she smiles and chirps, "Have a nice day!"
--You'll want to spit at people who say, "I know how you feel." Instead you'll just smile weakly.
--Losing one person doesn't make losing a second person, or a third, or a fourth any easier. Each loss hurts on its own terms.
--This one is important. No feeling is wrong. Loss is horrible and hard and... maddening. Yes, maddening, because just when you think you've got a grip on it, just when you think you've got the dam fixed, something triggers a whole new flood.
--Let yourself feel whatever you need to feel. You're not crazy. You're human, and you are allowed your emotions. Try to let them out in some tangible way. Even if all you do is fill a piece of scrap paper with the sentence, "This fucking sucks!"
--Don't make any big decisions for a year. Even if you think you're ready. Let the whole year go by.
--Be gentle with yourself. Please. Broken hearts need time to heal just like broken limbs do.

No one tells us these things. We flounder our way through mourning, wondering if we've gone off the deep end. We haven't. We're just hurt. We have a great big gaping chest wound and it's going to take some time to get better.


Can't we just start talking about it?

I started writing this blog in 2007 as a place to dump off my feelings after I lost my mate, John, to cancer. It was my outlet for mourning, for the deep loss that I felt. I couldn't have made a better decision. I never thought it (the blog) would become the thing it is today. I never thought anyone but for a few close friends might want to read it. I've been told that I'm courageous, brave, bold in sharing so much of myself. Maybe that's true, but it doesn't feel, and has never felt that way to me.

I'm just an intellect trying to rationalize my way through it all by talking about it.

I'm just a fucked up soul, crying in the dark when no one can hear.

I'm just like everyone else.

I mourn.


  1. All very good points. Grief is a real train wreck of a host of feelings, I agree. x

  2. You are simply amazing. That's all I have to say about it. I love you, Barb!

  3. Thank you for talking about loss, and so much more. {{Hugs}}

  4. What a wonderful post. You describe the experience so well and I would agree that if we all were prepared to talk about this more openly and more lovingly, the process wouldn't be quite so bad. It is something that we all suffer from sooner or later, as you say, so we need to understand more about this subject and how to cope with it.

  5. Truly beautiful, and strongly resonating.
    Thank you for putting into words the feelings of loss.

  6. Oh Barb, thank you for sharing this with us. It's so so true. You have such a way with words. I'm glad you are in my life. One of the reasons I love the internet!! *HUGS*

  7. Thanks for your comments, guys! I'm overwhelmed by all the good feedback and discussion that this post generated. It's a start, huh?

  8. I think you've said it best. I came to this site because my father is dying, and I'm kinda angry about that.


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