A+ in Grief

by | Feb 1, 2011 | 1 comment

Yesterday my counselor was surprised at the marked difference between where I was yesterday versus the previous week.  I was experiencing a reprieve from the raw pain and happily accepted it.  In its place, my thoughts were more pragmatic.  “Dan is gone…I have to figure out a way to go on…”  I explained to her two ways in which I saw an evolution in my grieving process.

First, when I’m alone I don’t only say, “You died, Dan,”  out loud, but I also say, “I’m sorry- what do you want me to do? I have to go on!”  This is because I’ll be experiencing a moment of peace- watching a Korean drama I recently decided to watch and just not crying, and I will feel a pang of guilt- not because I’m not still mourning or I’m “over it”, but because I just imagine him seeing me and wondering how I could be sitting watching a Korean drama when he has died!

The second noticeable evolution of my grief is that I’ve stopped focusing on where Dan is (although I am reading a book on the scientific studies of near-death experiences on the side) and gone back to the original question really- why are we here?  What is all of this about?  This question seems more productive.  Not that I’m getting to an answer- but because that question really includes the prior.

My counselor seemed pleased with my “progress”…of course admitting that it may be one step forward and one back and I may be in a different place again next week.

But then later that day, the rawness came back…


And then now, something new is emerging…I think it’s the depression stage.  Not that I’ve felt cheery since you died, but suddenly I have very little energy and just find myself staring into space while Audrey shows me things saying “uh huh…that’s nice.” Something I don’t usually do.  Getting up from the kitchen table takes an inner pep talks as does getting dressed- which hadn’t been a problem yet.  This must come right alongside the acknowledgment.

It’s funny because two different friends have told me jokingly that they’d give me an A+ for grieving. I was always so grade-oriented growing up.  With no pressure from my parents that I can remember, I just had to get straight A’s.  In college, I was determined to make Phi Beta Kappa.  Nevermind that none of this prepared me for the actual world.  So, I think these friends who know me pretty well were being partly sarcastic because there is no A in grieving really, but partly encouraging me and telling me that I’m doing a good job on this journey- which really- I must walk alone.

I’ve approached it studiously because we grieve who we are…reading, taking notes before counseling sessions, writing little papers so to speak, and making giant to-do lists that I believe will take me straight through the first year.

I’m not sure I have any thoughts to round out or resolve this post…just that I’m tired…and a bit worn out.  There is no relief like the day after you pull an all-nighter and turn in that twenty page paper.  There is no carefree feeling at the end of exam week.  There is no reward.  When is graduation?  I think Dan has graduated.  Me?  I have a long, long way to go.


February 1, 2011

1 Comment

  1. Emily Garvin

    I became obsessed with joking about getting 'grief gold stars' for all the good grieving things I did vs. the bad widow things I did. We can't help but grade ourselves to mark our apparent progress (or seeming lack thereof) and to use these markers as a way of comparing how we are doing day to day, week to week, month to month.
    But, like you said, there are no good grades for grief. How could there be? It just sucks all around.


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