Thursday, June 18, 2015


Trying to figure out how to to get some paragraph breaks into the text.
Does this work? Hard to tell from only two sentences.

I only have eight or nine years of blog entries to revise.


One of the feelings which is part and parcel of grief but seldom is mentioned is relief. The relative silence on the subject is perhaps due to the guilt a person might feel admitting that he or she feels relief that someone has died. “What kind of person does that make me?” you might ask yourself, and if you were asking me now, I’d answer, “You are the normal kind.” There are a lot of reasons to feel relieved when someone dies, and some make more sense than others. When my uncle who had molested me died when I was sixteen, I felt nothing but relief. I did not question my feelings. No guilt there. Years later I made a special trip to the cemetery to dance on his grave. I wonder how often people do that. When I got the news that my father died, my first thought was, “I am half an orphan,” and then a sentence arose in my mind unbidden: he’ll never be able to hurt me again. I always thought my dad loved me, but he had a temper. He did not hit me often, but when he did, he hit for distance, as the joke goes. When he died, I felt a little relieved. I was surprised. I felt guilty. What was the matter with me? I told no one. When my mother died, again I felt relief. That, I understood. In talking to other people I have learned how common being hit was in the 1950s. Some parents hit without a moment’s compunction, and nobody thought much about it. A lot of children were slapped and hit regularly. My mom was a daily slapper and hitter, but probably more hurtful was the emotional and verbal abuse that also occurred daily. I could not get anything right for her. My mother was usually angry and wasn’t much fun, and I had to be hyper-alert and on my guard around her. I loved her, I hated her. You can imagine how confused I felt, or maybe you don’t have to imagine if you had such a parent. When she died, I felt enormous relief. My deepest condolences and sympathy to those of you who had that kind of parent. For about six months after her passing, I sat on the couch every night wrapped in a warm blanket and watching John Edward talking to dead people on television late at night. I grieved the loss of my mother. It was a year and a half before, one day, I felt I had turned an internal corner and was able to begin living my life in the rarified air of no parental potshots. I have spoken with various counselors and friends and have realized that relief is not an uncommon feeling when someone dies, especially if they hurt you, but sometimes for other reasons. During the last weeks of Rick’s life, it was clear that he was not going to get better. His vital organs were failing. All the drugs and machines that were meant to keep him going weren’t enough in the end. You are never ready for someone to die no matter how ready you think you are. I would like nothing more than to have one more night lying next to him in bed, talking as we often did about anything and everything, but I was relieved when he died. The long losing battle was over. He wasn’t suffering any more. One relief I felt after Rick died that is tough to admit is that I was relieved that I was no longer annoying him. For example, when I drove him to medical appointments he freaked out if I became distracted while driving. After he spoke to me about this, and it wasn’t in a calm voice, I did try to focus when I drove so as not to upset him. Once he was gone I didn’t have to worry about annoying him anymore. Once he was gone I wanted to stay home and be alone forever so I wouldn’t bug anyone ever again, but it turns out that it bugs some people when you don’t leave the house. You can’t win. So you see, there are many reasons why you might feel relief when someone dies. It’s normal, it’s common, and you’re not stony hearted or defective if that’s what you feel. So don’t add guilt for feeling relieved to the burden of your grief. You are feeling bad enough as it is. Tell you what, though. It would be a RELIEF for me to write about something other than grief. Maybe the next column will be about dogs and cats. People like dogs and cats.

Monday, June 15, 2015

1. The Anger Stage, and 2. A New Computer

All right, class, we have discussed the non-linear properties of grief. Non-linear means that the stages of grief which Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described for us do not happen in order. You don’t work your way through them like lessons from a textbook. More like they work their way through you, at unexpected times. Last night I tripped and fell into the anger stage. A friend posted online that after twenty years of marriage, he and his wife had been talking about which of them might die first, and each of them expressed the wish to go first in order not to be the one left behind. “Isn’t that romantic?” he said, making a joke of it. This is not funny, I thought. Because my husband was so ill the last five years of his life, it looked like he was going to die first, but when we talked about it we both acknowledged that You Never Know. I could have a car wreck or a heart attack and be gone in an instant. He expressed his wish that we both go at the same time. I said, speak for yourself, buster. I might not be ready to go when you are. He then said that if I died first, he would stop dialysis and die himself. That made me angry – what about the people here who would need you? After he died, though, I understood his thinking. It is so hard to go on without him. Occasionally I have to decide, again, to go on living. Unless you’ve lost someone as close to you as a spouse or a child, you cannot possibly imagine how much you long for the life and the person you used to have. If I’d gone at the same time he did, there would have been no grief, at least not for me. I can’t get my old life back. Sometimes it’s harder than other times to keep walking into the new life. It sucks, and it blows, and it tears the rag off the bush. It ain’t fair, and it ain’t right. It simply is. If you catch my drift. My friend and his wife were talking about the inevitable end of their life together. One will die, and no one knows who or when or how. This is not a subject that people can talk about easily. I understand that you might want to joke, to keep the specter of your own death or that of your spouse at a distance. That makes perfect sense to me, but I was not in the mood last night. Joking about spousal death ticked me off. You want to know how you’ll feel if you’re the one left behind? Stunned. Destroyed. Devastated. Crazy. Numb. For a long, long time. It is not “romantic” not to want to be the one left behind, it is self-defense. Do have a plan: make your will. Live as fully as you can, let the people you love know that you love them. Be kind. Have those discussions about death as you are able. Or don’t. It’s the love and the kindness that matter. And that’s all I have to say about that. PP Now I shall speak about the death of a machine. It was plain that my old computer was going down, so I got a new computer to replace it. Two weeks after the new computer arrived, the old computer went from quirky to non-functional. Non-functional is when nothing you try to open will open, not even the clunky old solitaire games. Sigh. Good-bye, old Paint. My computer needs are modest. Here’s what I do on computers: play solitaire and online games, write in Word, get email and check Facebook. I look up every stray question on Google, and I shop online. Sometimes I look up houses and used cars. When I was young I used to fantasize about men, but now it is more fun to fantasize about real estate and Subaru Foresters. I wanted Windows 7, but got Windows 8.1. Remember when you got your first computer, and you sat there and stared at it and wondered how the heck to do anything with it? First time I started my Windows 8.1 computer, I felt that lost again. I had heard that 8.1 is designed mainly to telephones and tablets, and that there was a steep learning curve. I heard right. Fortunately, the computer came with lots of tutorials and information. When I found the desktop things started looking more familiar. Took me a week and a half to find the Office 365 software I downloaded, but I’ve got it now, so that’s all right. So here I am working on a Windows 8.1 computer, and it’s not so bad, but I had to download solitaire, and I will never understand why Microsoft keeps fixing things that aren’t broken. I guess they have to make a living.