We hear and talk about grief, but it’s usually intellectually savvy, always complicated, doesn’t make much sense, and often difficult to understand. So I’ve decided to describe grief as a metaphor, using terms I know from my experience, that will probably ring true with many. This is an example of how it was for me, and of course, my buddy, Mr. Grief.
Some folks that are grieving will read this article and probably comment, what a load of rubbish. Why? Simply put, everyone grieves differently, and some grieve much deeper than others. I’ll explain it this way. If my wife Annie had of been killed instantly in an auto accident, I would of grieved differently than this article will indicate. Because, that’s not what happened to Annie. She was diagnosed with cancer, and I was told privately she was very sick, and shouldn’t even be alive. Over the next 30 months I witnessed more pain and suffering than humanity should allow. No one should have to go through what she went through. And guess what. As her 24/7 caregiver I had a ringside seat. I got to see it all.
Two points! I believe grief can be driven by the circumstances surrounding the death, and the amount of love and empathy you had for the person you lost. I adored Annie, and having to watch her inhumane suffering for the better part of 30 months, really rocked my world–it screwed me up. So it follows that I had a long, deep, and difficult journey through grief. If you can relate to this article, you’ve been where I’ve been, and if you can’t–I would have rather been you, during grief.
Some people say, the only way we can truly reach the outer limits of our mind is to be hypnotized, or medically induced by drugs.
Obviously, they’ve never met Mr. Grief. He can take you to hell and back, and just when you think things are getting better, he gives you another round trip ticket and the cycle continues. He’ll pick you up, shake you to your core, toss you around like a rag doll and leave you in a corner to rot. And while you’re rotting, you’ll start to weep, and through your tears the words just start flowing from, your heart broken mind. How could this happen to us? All our aspirations, our hopes, our dreams, their just gone. This isn’t fair, we didn’t deserve this. And of course, Mr. Grief is right there with you, enjoying the moment, and discovering more new and innovative ways to mess with your head. He’s now entrenched inside your mind, and he’s going to take you on a real road trip. One of chaos, nightmares, the truths, the lies, and all the pain and suffering he can muster. And while he at it, he’s working overtime trying to deceive you into thinking that you are losing all your friends, because all you ever want to talk about is your loss. And who really cares about that, other than you. Mr. Grief gets great joy out of your loneliness and suffering. He has you all to himself now.
You’re getting tired, and you just want sleep. A place where you’re troubles will be behind you. Ah, but Mr. Grief loves the unconscious too. Their more fun to screw with than the alert ones, that are going about their business. You’re now trapped between two worlds, the conscious and the unconscious, and when the night mares or worse, night terrors hit, there is no escaping the reality of the vivid feeling that you’re reliving your worst nightmare over again. Your Loss! Mr. Grief will put maximum effort into getting you to relive all those horrible, traumatic memories and great satisfaction watching you collapse, in a pile of despair.
Mr. Grief loves this one! You’re asleep, dreaming, resting peacefully, spending some quality time with your dearly departed loved one. Life is so good, your hope is now renewed, nothing bad ever happened, and then you wake up. And Mr. Grief is sitting by the bed, waiting for you. He punches you in the gut and laughs in your face, and ridicules you for being so insanely naive. You ask, how could I have been dreaming, it seemed so real, the peace, the calm, she looked so beautiful. Mr. Grief wants you to have vivid dreams. And yes, he will allow some good dreams in too, but he’s always going to be there to greet you when you wake up. It was simply a cruel joke, he was screwing with your head. Now you’re heart is aching as the sorrow of your reality once again takes over, as you realize it was just a dream. He’s got you again!
Mr. Grief is relentless in his pursuit of your misery. He doesn’t want you to be happy. He thrives on your inability to think straight or make good decisions as he navigates the cobwebs of your mind, setting little traps along the way. And predictably, you’ll walk right into the trap and into his open arms, over and over. You’re really sick, but he is starting to love you—so he says.
As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, you’ll say to others, “I’m really feeling good today, I think I’ve turned the corner on Mr. Grief.” Alas, what you’ve really done is turned your back on Mr. Grief, and being a real back stabber, he hates that. He knows where you live, you can’t escape that easy. Everywhere you go, he’s always there, with you, waiting for the right moment to pounce. Then it happens. Sitting at home relaxing, got the radio on, life’s good, until that old favorite song comes on and shatters your world once again. He controls what you listen too as well, knowing you are not smart enough to stay away from the sad music. After all, sad music always makes you cry.
And that’s, Mr. Grief’s fatal flaw. What hurts you, over time will make you stronger and in the end, help you heal. Yes, he will bloody your nose on occasion, knock you down, walk all over you if he can, make you think the sky is falling, break your heart, and do just about anything he can to you. But in the end, he really does love you, although he has a very strange way of showing it.
After all those horrible things he’s done to you, Mr. Grief has the nerve to say, I was only trying to help you. I’m your friend, you know me—I live in your mind–I’m a part of you. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I was only trying to help you face your worst nightmares head-on. How else can you get well. I wanted you to revisit your memories over and over, cry a million tears, get rid of all the negative emotions, and I made sure you did. After all, I couldn’t just sit inside your head and let you stuff all your feelings. It’s hard to be with someone that’s hurting sooooo much. I wanted you to be like you were, so alive, and well, so much fun to hang out with…My best friend.
I’m Mr. Grief, and I will crawl back into that part of your mind that you don’t want to access, but only after I’ve made sure all your pent up emotions are gone. I am your friend, let me help you, together we can do this. What’s that you say, “Things will never be the same again.” Of course not, they can never be the same, life as you knew it, will only live on in memory. I’m not totally going away though. I’ll linger around on the fringes, always be there as a subtle reminder of what you had. Lest you forget! I will no longer be your pain, but ever so often you’ll feel a little ache in your heart, and that will be me, Mr. Grief, just keeping an eye on you.
Mr. Grief will promise you that he won’t interfere in your life, once you reach the point, or a place in your life, and you’re trying to move on and get past–the past. Not forget the past, just get through it. Life will go on with or without you, and Mr. Grief is pulling for you.
Remember, he was your friend all along. Again! What hurts you, in time, will heal you and make you stronger. I know, he didn’t need to be so rough, but you’re a survivor, and survive you will.
The lead in picture to this article, I call the “Look of pain.” It was taken one year and one month after Annie passed. I drove out to a friend’s farm with my daughter Melissa. She apparently took this picture of me while I was walking across a horse pen. At that point, my grief was still poison and very intoxicating. I never really knew if I was coming or going and didn’t really care. I was simply living each day as they came, fighting for survival.
It’s now been four and one-half years since that fateful day, and I can tell you from my heart, there is life after death, and like it or not we survive, moving on to the next chapter in our life. Make it special!
I wish you all, the best.