This weekend, someone near and dear to my heart passed away. For those of you that are wondering why you are strange, this article may shed some light on the fact that there is not only no wrong way to grieve, but grief does not always look like grief. Thank you, as always, for reading.
If I were on CSI I would be arrested for murder.
Not because I’m an actual, you know, murderer—but because I don’t act like the “right” kind of grieving family member. I act like the one you point to the television and can’t resist talking directly to. “You did it! I know you did!” I’m sure would be pointed and shouted at me if people knew how close I was to the person that died. Because for someone “supposed to be” in a deep state of mourning I haven’t taken any time off of work, I act normal and attend to my social life, and am all around ok-sounding when you talk to me on the phone.
But All Is Not What It Seems
There is one thing that’s different between me-not-mourning and me-mourning. A simple, powerful desire to lash out with cruelty whenever possible. Don’t jump to conclusions, I don’t start kicking kittens and spitting on the homeless. I don’t even carry out any verbal or non-verbal acts of cruelty, simply because our actions are who we are, and I do not want to be a cruel person.
Not because I’m a good person, but because I do not want to become someone I don’t like. Selfish much? Yes, I really think so.
Not taking action on my feelings, however, does not take away my desire to be awful to others. This feeling of a light scratching on the inside of a locked closet door in my mind. Like the monster that could exist if I chose to set it free is about to get permission.
- Permission to tell people what I really think (whether or not I actually think it outside of the moment it is presented).
- Permission to not hold back when I someone hears my advice and disagrees openly. To attack them with how much money I make and how high profile I am to prove to them how wrong they are.
- Permission to make them feel stupid and empty and worthless.
- Permission to make them feel exactly how I feel in the face of my loss.
I’m pretty sure I’ll never know if I’m the only one that grieves this way. I’m pretty sure any sane person—unlike me—would never openly and publicly admit that they wanted to burn down the world when their loved one dies. I’m not even angry about it. Just cold and detached.
Is Normal Really So Normal?
I hope my children have inherited their father’s style of grieving. It’s much more normal in the eyes of society. A little sadness in the eyes, a little crying, some hiccups and a shaky hand laid on a casket. The drive to a cemetery and the handholding of family as they all hold each other and band together at the passing of a fallen member.
Really, they look like something off of an ABC Family show where they have a cast of actors grieving in order to tie up loose ends in the plot. They look so normal it’s almost abnormal. They grieve so perfectly it’s almost disturbing. For someone like me, it is an uncomfortable experience that always leaves me wondering how a deli tray is supposed to help in desperate situations.
But then, like clockwork, a couple weeks pass and they’re all fine. I mean really fine. They grieve, sob, break down as appropriate to what relation they were to their deceased ... and then they just go on.
How do people do that? How do you get through the death of a loved one and not find yourself forever changed? Am I really the only one who uses a professional voice when I’m grieving so I don’t have to explain why I sound different or sad? Do you avoid your friends when you grieve or embrace them and make them part of your sadness?