I’m trying to grieve with grace. In the aftermath of the blame, of hurtful words, and angry glares, I am trying (as my husband would put it) keep my head above water without hurting others. Maybe sitting in a corner bawling with snot running down my face, and mascara running down my cheeks isn’t considered graceful. But what I mean is I’m trying to let go of the anger. I’m making an intentional effort not to project my hurt onto others. I’m trying to let go of the anger I have towards myself, towards the system, the psychiatrist, towards his sister, and his father. Towards him.
There are moments I have failed at this. Weeks after his passing, I was out in the yard setting up our tent trailer to get it ready to sell. I couldn’t find the crank, or the keys I needed to get the beast set up, and it was the first time I’d have to do it on my own. In my stressed state, and still in grieving, I became furious at him. “Fuck you” I thought. You left me here to deal with this all on my own. Where is the bloody trailer crank? Why did you take it? Why did you leave?
By early afternoon, I was starting to lose my grip. I broke down crying outside in my back yard and instead of acknowledging the fact that it wasn’t the stupid trailer crank I was upset about, or the fact that I had to sell the trailer I was angry at, I hurled as much venom as I could at a mutual friend of ours about how his sister told me this and that, and how she wrong to blame me for his death and she needed to take a look at her own life. . I had done exactly what my sister in law had done to me. The one person I did not want to be like in my grieving.
On the day of my husband’s viewing, this particular person sent me a text message telling me I needed to forgive myself for all I’ve done wrong. I was still in shock at the time, and still reeling from the verbal attack I had received from my sister in law the days before about how my husbands suicide was my fault, and the children’s fault. She sent hurtful spiteful messages to her sister, her cousins and her other relatives about how she was the only one that tried to help him. I was still trying to catch my breath from the week earlier, and I just wanted this day to be over. And then I got this message.
I didn’t respond the day of his viewing, as I had forgot about her words. A few days later I replied and though it wasn’t tactful, it certainly fit the situation and was straight and to the point. But this time, I realize, I was projecting my own guilt, and hurt onto her. I was angry, and furious and jealous and I was missing him, and the tent trailer crank was missing and so I just unleashed on her without even thinking about it. Hurt people, hurt people.
As soon as I hit send I immediately realized how off base I was, but by this time I couldn’t take it back. Even though we hadn’t really been close after the last two years, I still didn’t want to purposely hurt someone. I just wanted my hurt acknowledged and released. I’m sure my sister in law feels the same. So, I can empathize with why she attacked me the way she did.
I’ve since forgiven myself for those messages, and have resolved to put my phone away and write on paper when I feel angry. I acknowledge it, and then I release it. I own it. I choose what to do with it. I choose to be graceful in my grieving. I need to own my behaviour. I won’t lash out again at friends, or even at his sister. This has been the most difficult part. I really do feel their ignorance towards mental illness played a part in this tragedy, but it’s still not something they could have controlled. I do not agree with how she is dealing, but I can’t tell her how to grieve or how to cope. The years have brought so much damage to our relationship, that I’m not sure I could ever consider her a friend again. I need to work my way through my feelings about them in my own time and way. I have decided to give myself permission to have as little contact with them as possible at this time in order to sort through my feelings in a healthy way.
So, to me, sitting in a corner, bawling, with snot running my face, and mascara running down my cheeks is graceful. Screaming the pain into a pillow while pounding my fists into the mattress – graceful. Eating an entire bag of Costco sized chocolate chips at 2 am – graceful. Writing in a journal – graceful. I am choosing to do these things instead of hurling hurtful words at others or myself.I choose to learn from this experience by not hurting others because I am hurting. I will work on letting go of my sister in laws hurtful words and recognize she is hurting too. We all are…