As the first anniversary of my son’s death approaches … on the 2nd of June he will have been gone for one whole year … it becomes increasingly obvious that I’ve not done the greatest job of proper grieving.
Not that there is a wrong way or a right way to mourn; individually and culturally, there are as many ways to deal with death as there are people who die, and that’s about 10,007 humans per minute on this planet, so a lot of variety.
Death rituals can be part of the process when folks are lucky enough to be afforded the luxury of time to conduct them, when death happens by ones and not by thousands and in situations where the rituals themselves don’t deplete resources to the point of costing more lives.
It occurs to me as I write this, that today’s post prompted my first Google search of grief .. an indication of just how not right I’ve been doing this, and in the course of composing a fucking blog post attempt to face my grief, I’m compartmentalizing, as I’ve done from the time I was told my son was dead.
I know why I went to great lengths to encapsulate each wayward bit of grief, then swallow each whole without letting anything touch the sides. There was so much to do … get Sam and Cj sorted out so I could fly to the other side of the planet. That started it. There was no time to fall apart when packing and making sure my kids and my house and my animals would be cared for for the month I would be away, and getting myself from one airport to another had to happen, and being alone meant just that; there would be no one to hold my hand on a 16+ hour flight, and transiting in Dubai could not happen in a puddle.
Once I arrived, there was more to sort out … more than anything I’d ever considered I’d have to consider … the details of death. Jaren’s dad was there, going through this all, too, and my daughter and her family, and much of my family, and friends, all trying to cope with the loss of him.
Again, a reasonably rational mind was required.
I would go through the motions, do what needed to be done. I would meet with Jaren’s dad and stepmom, my daughter and her husband and others as we all tried to understand this sudden tragedy. I went through what was left of Jaren’s apartment, attended memorial services and let others arrange for his body to be transported to the Northern California town where we would have the funeral.
And at the end of each day, I would go to my room, cry and tell myself that if I fell apart, I would not be able to get myself back together.
Once up north, I stayed with my mother, picked out a casket, wrote stuff for the funeral. I hadn’t been in Red Bluff, California in more than twenty years. It was where Jaren was born.
Since Jaren’s dad did not object, it was decided that he would be buried where much of the family has gone, right beside my father in a lovely little cemetery in the foothills. I wandered the grounds for a while, talking to my son and hoping he was happy with the choices made for him.
I spent time with my mother and some dear old friends, and each night I went to my room alone knowing that there was more to do the next day, deciding again the time was not right to slip into grief.
There’s no doubt that I was afraid. Falling apart in an empty room seemed too much like standing on the edge of a dark precipice knowing no one was there to stop a leap, or to catch when I hit bottom.
So, I didn’t. And it got easier. Much easier to keep swallowing the pill instead of chewing the bitterness of it and experiencing all that nastiness.
Now, almost a year has passed and what I find is that through the process of getting good at keeping the pieces of my grief well separated, my whole bloody life is fragmented. I can no longer grasp big pictures, but only shards of here and there. When I find a sliver, I can gaze at it, examine it, ponder it, but I can’t see where it fits.
This doesn’t work so well.
And it seems bottom has hit me whether I jumped or not.
I’ve been told recently that I need to grieve, to move myself higher up my priority list, to start doing things that make me happy again. Okay. But how do I do that? (Writing has been suggested, and I’m feeling shitty enough to go with that thought, hence this post.)
It seems to take far too much energy to talk to people, to explain, so I shut down and stay home. If I lived somewhere else, I could join a support group or go into therapy, but those aren’t options here.
It’s so frustrating being this sad and not knowing how to grieve.
Some random thoughts …
On my facebook page this morning, a photo of Jaren posted by his friend Francisco under the heading: He’s still here. In the photo, he’s playing the guitar that now sits downstairs in my office hopefully protected from this climate by the case on which he had written in duct tape, “No talent”.
I started crying one day, and Cj said to me: “Mommy, you’re sad. Did Jaren die again?”
When Ernesto is here I feel better … or maybe I’m just diverted … but he’s not now, and it’s worrying that I’m so crap at being alone.