Tuesday, August 24, 2010
A few thoughts on grieving - day one
Here they are in no particular order:
1. Hasn't there been enough pain? Now the Thanksgiving feast, the Christmas dinner, the Chinese multi-course sit down meal of grief really begins. This amount of crying should at least burn a hell of a lot of calories. Has anyone studied this? In other words: now the real loss begins.
2. Stay in bed as long as you need to. So what if it's a gorgeous summer day? Fuck the sunlight and the bright blue skies. Fuck the dental receptionist who rings up and wants to schedule a cleaning. Is this a good time? No. When would be a good time? in that chipper, clueless voice.
3. Don't eat; feel the physical sensation of an empty stomach. The least you can do is feel some physical pain. Your heart is suffering, why not let the body suffer, too?
4. Donations. Although you despise everyone and everything today, try to do some good in the world. Something. My good friend Midge made a donation to an animal shelter in Otis's name today. Bless her. She is an amazing friend. This gave me the idea that I could make a donation to Friends of the Animals Foundation in West Seattle --- the rescue organization where I adopted Otis and Sarajevo ten years ago. It felt really good to give back to the people that made it possible for me to give Otis a home.
5. Let others know about the selfless individuals that run Friends of the Animals Foundations. The organization is 100% volunteer. They adopt out kittens and cats through a local pet store in West Seattle and on the web; they capture feral cats and after neutering them, release them back into their colony. In my mind, they are absolutely heroic. And yes, they have a Facebook page.
6. Eat whatever you want. Eat in bed. Eat things that don't go together and are bad for you. Today I have had: a bowl of cereal, fruit, ice cream, crackers, more fruit. Some of the fruit was in a smoothie.
7. Stay away from people who love you and mean well. I spent much of the day feeling rage (the anger stage) and anyone could have set me off with just one "wrong" word. I felt lucky that I did not have to go to work and try and teach today. Know when you are not fit for human company.
8. Look at photographs, lots of photographs. I think I've looked at almost every picture I have of Otis today. I figured out that I could zoom in on his photos on my iphone and create close ups to look at. I was much more interested in his older, healthy photos than the more recent ones. It felt good to look back over his life. I usually take very few photos -- I'm very glad for what I took. Note to self: take more photos.
9. Realize animals grieve. Yes, they do. My veterinarian verified this --- as if I needed verification.
It's been a very quiet day today. Sarajevo is clearly depressed. Even Duende is sniffing around trying to figure out where Otis has gone. It feels good to know they care, too.
10. Think about some kind of memorial. Sometime next week I will pick-up Otis's remains. I think I want him to be out on the porch where he most loved to be. I'm fantasizing what kind of big plant I will plant him under. It feels very strange, slightly sick, and somewhat comforting to think about this.
In truth, grief sucks. I have made this sound much more light-hearted than I feel at the moment. There is of course no right way to grieve and no wrong way. One thing I've learned in life --- skipping the grieving process just catches up with you later. It's important to live through the pain, the crazy thoughts, the anger, the bad food, the sleepless nights. I wish I had more wisdom on this subject. I don't.