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I woke up this morning before the rooster crowed---assuming I had a rooster which I don’t---and I started reading articles on grief. The first thing I learned in one titled Emotional Jet Lag is that grief is like "having your brain filled up with three quarts of molasses” and grieving people shouldn’t use power tools. Damn, I’ll have to put off buying that new circular saw I’ve been lusting after since Don’s death.
Then I read an article titled I’m Fine and Other Lies. That one covered a survey that was conducted where it was found that no one likes being lied to and that everyone lies about their feelings. Widowed people, it concluded, are the worst liars of all. Can you see me raising my hand? Yup, I’m guilty of the “I’m fine” lie and if my brain wasn’t filled up with so much molasses I might be able to explain why the article ruled that telling the “I’m fine” lie is such a bad thing.
Moving on to a piece titled Emotional CPR, the article writer talked about how we wouldn’t tell a person having a heart attack that we’ll be back to help after we go to the bookstore and read up on how to do CPR. “Oh, great,” I thought, as I read along, “all these articles I’m reading on grief should have been read months ago, before Don’s passing.” And all my friends and family---well, the whole damn world!---should have read all these articles in advance of anyone dying in our circle of human contacts so we’d all know how to deal with molasses damaged brains.
Next I read an article titled You Can’t out Run Your Heart. It talked about some old prize fighter who coined the iconic phrase, ‘you can run, but you can’t hide.’ The whole point of the article was that the only way out of the circle of grief pain is to keep moving through it. Frankly, that author could have saved himself a lot of time if he would have just regurgitated that famous quote of Winston Churchill’s---If you’re going through hell, keep going---because that was the bottom line of the entire, too-wordy piece.
Since it took me several weeks before I had my first cry after Don’s death---and now I can’t seem to get through a day without a few tears---I was next drawn to read an article titled If I start Crying will I be Able to Stop? It talked about how we are programmed as children not to show our emotions with commonly used parenting phrases like: “Go to your room if you’re going to cry” and “knock off the crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” I actually DO remember my mom saying both those things to me! So once again we get to blame the mothers of the world for all the ills of the world, even for the misguided way we grieve as adults.
And last but not the least was an article that talked about how cleaver the author was in creating “some helpful language” that he has since used thousands of times to help grieving people. This helpful language was and I quote: “A relationship should leave a legacy of love, not a monument to misery.” I don’t know, maybe it’s that three quarts of molasses in my brain that is getting in the way of me seeing the value of that platitude. Check back with me in a year when my emotional jet lag has lifted and I can better process that sentence. All I know, now, is I’m glad I didn’t pay that grief counselor a lot of money to see him beaming with pride when he spat those words out of his silly little mouth. After all, timing is everything and I’m obviously not ready for his brand of expert advice. ©
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