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Oct 02 2012

Grief Diary, 10/2/12

10/2/12

Am having a ridiculous, totally dumb feeling that I didn’t expect: I’m worrying about whether I’m over-reacting to my father’s death.

This feeling is taking the form of a hyper-rational, straw-Vulcan thought process, which goes roughly like this: My father was almost 80. He was sick, and had been very sick for a long time. His quality of life had not been good for years, and had been seriously declining for months. Everyone close to him — including him, probably — wanted him to die, was ready for him to die, thought it was long past time for him to die. It’s not like this death was in any way unfair or unnatural, either: his poor health was largely self-inflicted, and anyway he was almost 80, and anyway death is a natural part of life that happens to all of us. And it’s not like he’d been in my daily life in any significant way. He hadn’t been for years. We talked on the phone for a couple of minutes every couple/ few weeks, if you can call it “talking” when one person’s language function is profoundly disabled and he’s literally incapable of saying more than a few coherent words. Even before the stroke, our relationship wasn’t close, he wasn’t in my life that much. In a day-to-day sense, my life after my father’s death isn’t going to look very different from my life while he was alive. And, of course, it’s not like the very idea of death is a surprise. I know that we’re all mortal. Like, duh.

So why should I be so upset about his death? Why should I feel so paralyzed by it? Why should I be cancelling plans, speaking gigs, writing deadlines? I’m being such a baby, such a wuss. I should just get over it.

I know. This is dumb. You don’t have to tell me that this is dumb. I cannot imagine even the most hyper-rational straw-Vulcan rationalist telling me it’s irrational to grieve over my father’s death. In fact, the hyper-rationalists would probably point me to those lists of stressful life events, ranked by how stressful they are, and they’d point to “death of a parent” right up there near the top. They’d point out that yes, death is natural and unsurprising — and so is grief, every bit as much. They’d probably even tell me, ad nauseam, all about the neurology and neuropsychology of grief. (Which I’m curious about, by the way: if anyone knows anything about it, I’d be interested in hearing it.)

Not sure where this “worrying about whether I’m over-reacting” thing is coming from. I’m wondering if it’s an attempt to keep the grief at bay a bit, by minimizing it and trying to see this death as no big deal. I’m trying to just accept it — and also to accept the meta-feeling of “boy, is that dumb” — as part of the whole “my emotions are going to be all over the map for a while and I need to let that be and not give myself a hard time over it” program.

I do have to say that, hyper-rationality aside, being evidence-based and skeptical is helping, more than I’d thought. Mostly it’s helping to know that what I’m experiencing now is natural, common. Having my moods be this disrupted and unpredictable is very alien to me, and it’s been good to hear other people say, “Yup, I totally had that, it’s completely natural, it’s part of the process.” And just in general, it feels comforting to know that… I don’t know how to put this. It feels comforting to know that reality is real. That reality is solid. I’m feeling very disconnected right now, almost dreamlike: I’m having a hard time remembering what day it is, what time is, what I need to do, what I’ve already done, whether I’m hungry, whether I’m tired, how long I’ve been staring at that spot on the wall. I feel like I’m taking a trip into the land of grief, and it feels surreal, like one of Calvino’s invisible cities. It feels comforting to know that reality will be there when I get back.

Speaking of being reality-based: I’m having a hard time telling if I’m really hungry, or just stress-hungry. I was hoping to take a break from counting calories during all this, but now I’m thinking that’s not a good idea. I feel somewhat shallow for even worrying about this. My dad just died, and I’m fretting about my weight? On the other hand… my weight is one of the few things I feel that I more or less have under control right now. I’ve been having a little upward drift lately, but I’ve stayed very close to my target. I don’t want one of the things in my life that’s actually working and that’s actually somewhat under my control to slip out of control. And besides… see above, re: my dad’s poor health being largely self-inflicted. I don’t want to inflict that on myself, or on the people I love, if I can help it.

I’m also having a weird thing about participating in life online. I’ll be distracting myself by reading blogs or Facebook or Twitter or what have you, and I’ll think of a comment to make or I’ll want to re-tweet or “like” something… and then I’ll think, “No, that’s inappropriate.” It’s weird. I’m fine with the idea of having a private life that’s not totally focused on death and grief — I can play with the kittens, distract myself with stupid TV, dick around online reading blogs and Twitter — but it somehow feels weird to have any kind of public life right now that isn’t about grief. The kittens did this hilarious thing the night my dad died, Ingrid and I were cracking up and taking videos of it… but I think it’s going to feel weird to put that video up in public. It feels weird to even mention it in public, even though it felt totally normal and right to do it. Not sure why this is. Maybe I’m afraid that people will judge me for not caring enough. Or maybe I’m afraid that if I start to move on a little bit, people will expect me to stay moved on, and judge me if I slip back into the grief.

I know. Dumb. I’m not saying it makes sense. I’m just trying to record what’s in my head and my heart and my flesh right now, and not worry about whether it makes sense. I wonder if one of the natural, normal parts of grief that everyone goes through is “worrying about whether you’re doing it right.”

I also wonder if poking at your grief again and again, like poking at a bruise or a sore tooth, is one of the natural, normal parts of grief that everyone goes through. I think I should knock it off for now, though. Time to go read something distracting, and try to sleep.

29 comments

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  1. 1
    No One

    Hey there. Kittens are funny. Your dad dieing is sad. And there is a word… “bittersweet”. It’s OK to be both sad and happy at the same time.

  2. 2
    georgewiman

    When my dad died I wobbled but eventually came round right. Not the same person afterward. Figured out that is OK.

    As the previous commenter said, you might have bittersweet feelings. You can expect to feel all kinds of things. You don’t have brilliant feelings, so you don’t have dumb feelings either.

  3. 3
    minxatlarge

    Oh honey none of us has control over grief, no matter how rational we are at other times.

    We have kludge-y brains, layers picked up since the beginning of life, blah, blah. We’re not designed to be rational; we’re the result of natural selection, just good enough to hang around and maybe put some babies out there.

    I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

    I am telling you that it’s okay to go a little crazy right now. You may even observe yourself having delusions (like seeing your dad standing there, smiling at you). It’s not you, it’s just part of the grief process. Brains be crazy that way. You’ll weep without provocation and laugh inappropriately.

    You will survive this, day by day, month by month. When we lose someone we love, it can be several years before we forget the ache in our chests. It’s all part of being human. Damn it.

    You’re going to make your own meaning out of this (another part of being human) but I’m going to offer you some words that helped me from my favorite poet, on the chance that you’ll find some comfort in them too:

    http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2009/05/03

    To live in this world

    you must be able
    to do three things:
    to love what is mortal;
    to hold it

    against your bones knowing
    your own life depends on it;
    and, when the time comes to let it go,
    to let it go.

    “In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver, from American Primitive. © Back Bay Books, 1983.

  4. 4
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Let yourself have all those emotions and be prepared for brainfade: suddenly forgetting what you’re doing or which way to the grocery store. Let Ingrid take care of you. We’ll be here when things settle down.

  5. 5
    NotThe Boss

    I’ve never met anyone else who seemed to relate to this “fear of overreacting”, so I just wanted to say that when my stepmother died of lung cancer a few years ago, I went through the same thing. I’d known her for a while, but we had only recently started to become close. I only saw her once or twice a year, maybe slightly more often after the diagnosis.

    Some part of my brain kept rationally telling me I wasn’t allowed to grieve, that she wasn’t really “mine” to grieve for, even though I knew it was stupid, stupid, stupid.

    I have no idea why that fear that I was grieving unfairly, or that I didn’t deserve to grieve, was part of the process for me, and no idea why it is for you, but I think perhaps it is more common than we think. I kept trying to rationalise it in some way; that seems to… not work.

    In summary, take your time, and your space, and your feelings. Grief works at its own frustrating pace, and I for one could not reason with it. If there is a way to give yourself permission to feel as you do, do that. We’re not going anywhere (you’re my favourite blogger, and I’ve been lurking on FtB for nearly two years now).

  6. 6
    gregorylynn

    I didn’t get past the first sentence. My father died the day pitchers and catchers reported in 2000. It was months before I was able to go to sleep without thinking of family members dying. I was completely and utterly useless for about a week.

    I guess my point is that there is no such thing as over reacting to your father’s death. You only have one father. (Not technically true, I suppose, but go with it) They only die once. They stay dead forever. You’re never going to see your father again and that fact is likely to hit you anew a hundred times in the coming months.

    You’ll see something and remind yourself to tell your father about it later and halfway through you just want to weep because you can’t.

    There’s nothing you can do but live it, survive it, share it with the people you love and who love you, and eventually the bitter edge gets rounded off a little and the sweet comes through a little more and your life starts to get back to normal. It’s a different normal, with a few more spots that hurt real bad if you poke them, but it’s normal and it won’t be too long before it’s home.

    And please, I know you get a lot of shit from random assholes but remember that there are others of us out here who don’t ever wish you anything but the best.

  7. 7
    okstop

    My deep sympathies, Greta. I can relate to what you’re going through. It’s totally normal. My father and I had a very complicated relationship, but the loss of a parent, even one who isn’t in your life much, is going to have a significant impact, because even a parent who “isn’t in your life” is IN YOUR LIFE by virtue of the fact that you have to construct his presence (or lack thereof) in that way. You don’t go around saying that I’M not really in your life… no one EXPECTS me to be. Conversely, though, the child-parent relationship is so tied up in so many social institutions, rituals, customs, and so on, that you are forever mentally addressing the status of your relationship with even a more-or-less absent parent. That is, even a parent who ain’t around is ALWAYS around… conspicuous by his or her absence.

    So of course you’ll be affected. Of course you will. And of course you’ll feel strange about that, conflicted. We are accustomed to believe that you grieve for those you’ll miss the most, but the fact is, for good or ill, your parents are constants in your life. They’ve always been there, even if only in “negative space” (as noted above), since the very first moment you existed. You literally don’t know what the world is like without them until they are gone. That’s a major mental reorganization, and it’s bound to have effects.

    I wouldn’t have posted, honestly. I don’t like to presume that my own ramblings on such matters are of use to anyone, or welcome in a time of grief, but you said hearing this sort of stuff is helping. So I hope this helps.

  8. 8
    mildlymagnificent

    Over-reacting, under-reacting, feeling nothing – these feelings all happen at times, sometimes it feels like they all happen all at once.

    I never had any relationship problems with my own dad – but. By the time he broke his hip – entirely due to his own unrelenting stubbornness in doing things directly contrary to professional advice – he’d been ill and incapacitated for years. As good as totally deaf, and functionally blind as well as the chronic respiratory illness and post-polio style disabilities, my mother and my sister put in _massive_ efforts to make life at home as good as possible for him. It damn near killed my mother.

    So when he died – mainly because they couldn’t risk hip surgery because of the respiratory disease, I kept vacillating between grief for him and relief for my mum and guilt at the relief and on and on, and round and round.

    The big thing about grief is that it doesn’t really lessen as time goes on. When it hits you occasionally on a birthday or Father’s Day, it’s much the same, it just happens less often. And you also get used to it in much the same way as you get used to living with chronic pain or scars from physical injuries.

  9. 9
    Pyra

    Grief is an odd thing. There will be lots of things that will never make sense. No matter how many times I dealt with my mom’s near-deaths, her final suicide was still the most shocking thing. Watching my dad at bedside, hearing the slowing of the pulse, and seeing him violently ill did nothing to prepare me for the grief. It’s been 11 years, just the past week, in fact, since my dad died, and my family is approaching the 20 year mark since my mom’s suicide, and I still find shreds of weird grief symptoms slicing me. And it’s odd to think that after a year or two friends of mine thought I should “just get over it already.” 20 years, now, and I’m still not over it. That’s just my personal experience, of course.

    Just wanted to throw in a bit of my sympathy, too. I’m sorry for your loss.

  10. 10
    antialiasis

    I haven’t lost a parent, but when my grandfather died, I did feel like I was doing it wrong because I was underreacting. I loved him dearly and yet when he died all I could do was stand there and dully go along with everyone else. I didn’t really feel like I grieved at all. He was just gone, and even on an instinctual level I didn’t feel like there was any point in holding his hand, or saying goodbye to a dead body. When I did cry, it was at my grandmother’s grief – she was living and suffering then, while he just no longer existed. I felt like I was supposed to be a wreck and felt bad for not being one.

    Grief comes in a thousand different forms, and in such a vulnerable emotional state I suspect we all feel like our version isn’t quite right – it’s the same as the clothes that all seem wrong, really, just with emotions instead of clothes.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. From your posts, the strain this entire ordeal has been putting you under is incredible, and I admire your ability to keep writing insightfully in such a state. These grief diaries are not just an outlet for your emotions; they’re also fascinating and I think they help a lot of people who have had similar feelings but feel uneasy sharing it.

  11. 11
    huntstoddard

    Greta,
    I think a lot of people in your position simply shut down entirely for an indefinite period of time. The very fact that you’re still swinging at the balls, sometimes not hitting them, sometimes wondering why the hell you did that, indicates that you’re in midst of “healing,” which is really a quaint way of saying that you’re dealing with a new life situation. It really doesn’t matter whether you make a “mistake” or not. There are no mistakes at this point, and you have to give yourself leeway to simply react. If tomorrow you regret something, I recommend verbally tell yourself that it doesn’t matter because it really doesn’t. Give yourself that much compassion. Later on, there will be plenty of time to “follow the rules,” but now is not the time.

    I hope some of this made some sense. :) Take care of yourself.

  12. 12
    stardust

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Greta.

    Isn’t it weird that, death being a natural part of life, we’re completely lost when facing it? But still we judge others when they’re not “doing it right”…whatever that means.

    Being a physician, I knew my brother’s death was imminent three days before it happened. My whole family was still hoping and praying for a miracle, while I was grieving alone. At his funeral I was already dry-eyed after three long sleepless nights crying in secret. My friends were surprised to see me so calm and having small talk instead of being a mess. I went to the restroom and surprised myself when I looked in the mirror: I looked completely normal. I knew what I looked like. Like I didn’t care.

    But I did. He was my only brother and my best friend. This was four years ago and the pain is still as raw as the moment I knew he would die.

    Yes, I’ve had happy days since then, but there are times some silly little thing reminds me of him in a way I hadn’t remembered before and it throws me out there to the cold and dark corners of my mind again and I have to go through some fresh grief once more.

    I’m not sure it will ever get better, like they told me, but I know I’m used to it by now and I allow myself that grief, regardless whether it’s “appropriate” or not.

    I wish your pain becomes bearable soon and you can be at peace with yourself.

  13. 13
    Pierce R. Butler

    Hang in there.

    You have our permission to feel any way you feel, so what else could you need?

  14. 14
    allencdexter

    Don’t know if I’m normal or abnormal, but I didn’t go through intense grief when either of my parents died. I expected it. They both had lived into their mid and late nineties and life was not treating them well. It was more of a relief than grief. Of course, I miss them being here. Yet, not an overwhelming feeling of loss.

    My uncle died after a long life which was ended by lukemia. The doctors tried to keep him alive with blood transfusions, but he was so miserable he just begged “let me go.” They did. He went. He’s gone. The world goes on.

    One day, I’ll go. Some will grieve, but I hope not too deeply because I’ll be better off without the life that is becoming more of a struggle and disappointment every day. I’m a shadow of the man I was just a short time ago.

    So, don’t worry about your feelings. Let them play out and do what you have to do to cope in your own individual way. Your feelings and reactions are just you. There’s no right or wrong about them. We, of all people, should not feel guilty about how we feel. After all, no one has any right to pass judgment on how we feel or how we cope. It’s really none of their business.

  15. 15
    terrirose

    The people who judge you for getting over your grief too fast or too slowly are assholes. Don’t worry about them. Plus, the main person you really have to be true to is yourself. I admire you for sharing and being a public person but personally, I don’t feel you owe me anything. You owe it to yourself to be honest with yourself though.

    Find some great distractions like Twitter or Facebook (I like cell phone Solitaire for when I want to disconnect from the world). I call my distractions “Brain Breaks”. Take as many as you need.

    Sometimes I need a Brain Break in the middle of writing in my journal. I get pissed off at myself for stopping because thinking has become too hard to continue doing so I’ll end with a question for myself to come back to when I end my Brain Break.

    Even though I have not lost a parent yet, my mother told me the best advice she got when her mother died was from a friend who said, “You’ll get over it…but you’ll never get over it.”

  16. 16
    grignon

    Like you, I was told my crate of grief would be delivered many times before it actually showed up. So I had my forklift,hammer and crowbar ready. I was a little surprised it only “REQUIRED” a screw driver and utility knife to unpack but, as everything was staged and I’d practiced with the tools, I used the heavy equipment and the job was finished quickly.

  17. 17
    jackjesberger

    My heart goes out to you Greta. Nobody wants to grieve. It’s like having to throw up. Everybody fights it, especially at first. This is a good thing. There’s an art to being in grief, just like there’s an art to being sick when you get a bug. There’s not a single perfect way, just better ways than others, but it takes time to figure them out for yourself. Nobody knows them in advance. You’ve had all of two days to feel your way around. Pulling away and questioning whether you are giving in too much, then wondering if you are not facing it properly is just you finding your way in a very foreign landscape-the way people have since forever.

    Remember how the returning Apollo spacecraft did re-entry? They came in shallow, dipping into the atmosphere at high speed but for a short time. This slowed them down, but heated them too much. They had to let themselves bounce up just a bit out of the atmosphere to let the heat dissipate before final descent, like skipping a stone. There was a calculus that only made it necessary to skip once. There is no such precise calculus for grief, so you can skip several times before you’re ready to come down. You’ll figure out the number of skips you need as you go.

    The only other piece of wisdom that has ever made sense to me about going through what you are now is this: For what it’s worth, there will be absolutely no liking it. Nobody has, not ever.
    But you will be OK.

  18. 18
    opposablethumbs

    Reactions to loss are probably always unpredictable. Thinking about what you said about the relationship not being close, though, puts me in mind of what I’ve felt for the loss of a family member some years ago – grief not just for losing them but grief for the relationship that could have been but wasn’t; for the relationship I wish we’d had but didn’t. There was definitely a time when I felt I was mourning the loss of something I very much wanted but never had and now never would, even in potentia. I don’t know if that makes any sense …

    Gave my dog a lot of hugs this morning; hope you’re getting a lot of cat cuddles.

    I wonder if one of the natural, normal parts of grief that everyone goes through is “worrying about whether you’re doing it right.”

    Yes! All those contradictory layers of reaction and second-guessing you describe sound totally normal and sane to me!

  19. 19
    Thorne

    I have to say, I was glad to see this post. It pointed out something that struck me right off the bat, but I didn’t feel right about commenting on.

    You said that your relationship with your father wasn’t all that great, but that your grief over his death was severe. I haven’t been able to reconcile those two comments myself. Intellectually I understand that everyone grieves differently, but emotionally I felt like you were going overboard. I started wondering if there was something wrong with me, or with you.

    But reading this post, and the comments with it, tells me that we are both grieving in different ways. As I said in an earlier post, I lost both of my parents this year, and there are times when I wonder why I haven’t felt any grief.

    Oh, I cried some when Mom died, but that was more from the horror of her condition before she died: her mind was gone, only very distant, childhood memories managing to survive. She wasn’t my Mom anymore. Her dieing was a relief, both for her and for me.

    I watched my Dad grieve for seven months, and his constant comments about being ready to join her may have prepared me for his death. When it came it was once again a relief. I haven’t felt the need to shed a tear or miss him. I might, eventually, but at the moment I’m comfortable with his being gone. And our relationship was, as far as I can tell, far more connected that yours with your father. Over the last year I saw him almost every day, helped him with his finances, or just kept him company.

    So you can see why I would wonder which of us was having a problem. But some other commenters here seem to have had similar responses to their parents’ deaths, so maybe I’m not as horrible a person as I sometimes think I am.

    One thing I do know, keeping busy helps. Having to make the arrangements for both of my parents’ cremations, dealing with the bills, dealing with the estate, keeps my mind occupied, perhaps enough to stave off the grief. And I may crash somewhere down the road, eventually, who knows? But I know that I, like you, have people around me who care, and who can help when I need it. We have that much in common, at least.

    And I wonder, sometimes, if so much of what we think of as grief is just cultural and social responses to such things. Are we really that deeply affected by such things, or are we reacting in a way that is perceived as acceptable by those around us?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, deal with it on your own terms, and don’t worry about how others might react. They’re your emotions, and only you can understand them.

  20. 20
    hellboundallee

    You aren’t doing it wrong. You are mourning. It doesn’t matter that you expected this, or that you know his pain has ended. You are in mourning. It means you are a human who has emotions. He is gone now, and that is different–a BIG, big change, a catastrophic change–from how it was before. He was your dad, and that is a relationship that carries SO. MUCH. baggage for a person. I won’t speculate on the psychology of it all, because I am not a psychologist, or a therapist, and I don’t even know if I believe in psychology. I’m just thinking here, and I cannot find even one reason why you shouldn’t allow yourself to grieve.

    My mom’s dad was violent, had several mental illnesses and created utter chaos in her life. She grieved for him, and I still think she grieves. I think it might be because she didn’t allow herself to grieve, so it comes out in short bursts. I say, feel what you are feeling, let yourself feel it. And know that your feelings are valid and right. Give yourself time to figure this all out. Write, maybe do some art or recording. Or not. I’m ignorant about a lot of things, but I do know that denying yourself this kind of “frailty” or whatever one might call it is not productive.

    Again, I’m really sorry for you and I know this must be awfully hard,

  21. 21
    wscott

    I wonder if one of the natural, normal parts of grief that everyone goes through is “worrying about whether you’re doing it right.”

    I can’t speak for everyone obviously, but it’s definitely something I’m going through. (My dad passed away a few weeks before yours, under what sounds like fairly similar conditions.) One minute I think I’m over-reacting; the next I feel like I’m under-reacting. Like you, I can’t figure out how much of that is about me vs. how much is about how I think other people will perceive me.

    I went through something similar when my father-in-law passed away several years ago. We were actually quite close, but since he wasn’t MY dad, I wasn’t sure how much grief was “correct” or “permitted.” And of course there was the whole being-strong-for-my-grieving-wife piece.

    Grief is a strange journey. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong way to go about it. And I can’t tell if being thoughtful & rational about it helps or not. But we all get through it one way or another.

    With sympathy,

  22. 22
    johnthedrunkard

    Loss just is. How it manifests itself is not something we can control. Your father’s death removes him from everything that connects the two of you.

    I am in the middle of grief hell. For someone I hadn’t seen in more than three decades. I bleed about it on facebook and feel like I must be a fool, or a self-dramatising egoist. But dammit, I loved her with my whole heart and everything in my life connected to love has been shaken to the foundations.

    I am a sad, wet-drunk 18 year-old today, I burst into tears over scaps of poetry: ‘No grace, not charm is wanting to set the heart on fire,’ ‘The heart out of the bosom is never given in vain.’ ‘My fruit is fallen, while my leaves are green.’

    I can’t seem to stop it. I am embarassed to be so bloated with ‘feeling’ compared to all those children in China/Armenia etc. who have REAL problems.

    I believe that part of being a rational person is bringin who I really am to everything I do. To be ‘out’ as I really am, everywhere I go. This sense of loss, entangled with embarrsment is testing my resolve to live up to this standard.

    Fuck’em, I hurt, I am done pretending otherwize.

  23. 23
    Kevin

    Congratulations. You’re as normal as normal can be.

    Everyone goes through that kind of emotional roller coaster. I had precisely the same experience just last month when a good friend of mine died suddenly of a heart attack.

    I know that doesn’t make what you’re going through any less intense or acute, but at least you can take comfort in the fact that you have plenty of company. Meaning pretty much the entire human race from the time humans first began to form thoughts about loss and grief.

    Each passing day likely will be slightly better than the previous. And then there’ll be the inevitable “set-back”, and then you’ll rally again.

    Normal. Normal. Normal.

  24. 24
    otrame

    Sounds perfectly normal to me….because there is no normal. Everyone reacts to the death of someone they know in specific ways, ways that sometimes surprise them. You grieve your father’s death. It doesn’t matter that you did not get along all that well and that he had not been much of a presence in your life in recent years. The fact of your grief is a fact. You grieve. That is normal. As I mentioned before, it has been my observation that people who are very close to a parent deal with their deaths much more easily than those who aren’t.

    You remind me (by way of a contrast) of what a dear friend, a woman who was a mentor to me, said after her husband of 50 years or so died. She said she kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. She said she felt very little sadness, though she did feel a good bit of shock (it was a very sudden death). A few months later she said the other shoe never dropped, and that she had realized that she had “divorced” herself, her feelings, her life, from him many years before, without ever actually divorcing him and without even realizing it. His death had very little impact on her life as she had been living it.

    She also had decided that the fact that she could watch what she damned well wanted to on TV without being harassed was cool and she was not going to feel guilty for feeling that way about it.

    Bottom line: you feel what you feel. Go with that. If, after a couple of months, it is still having a significant impact on your life, see a therapist. Otherwise, don’t worry about it. Let yourself grieve and forget about all the reasons why you think you shouldn’t.

  25. 25
    geocatherder

    The trouble with death-grief is, it makes you resolve your relationship with the person within yourself. Since that isn’t really possible to do by yourself, grief is sort of asymptotic: it decays with time, but it never really goes away. I expect you already know this.

    IT WILL GET BETTER. You need to know this. You need to believe this, because it is true. There is no under- or over-reacting to someone near’s death. You get whatever your brain delivers. Dealing with it can be a big job, with no room left over for the rest of life for awhile, or dealing with it might take a lot of time and sneak up on you periodically for ages. It’s part of being human.

    I had a very complicated (but close) relationship of love and frustration with my mother, who died in 2003. I was extremely close to my dad, who died in 2006. I still grieve both deaths in a low-key, only bothers me sometimes way. I miss my dad, but we didn’t have any outstanding issues. I don’t miss my mom, but I wish we’d been able to understand each other better. They are different kinds of grief.

  26. 26
    navigator

    yes, I agree with the above, there is no “normal” with grief. When my Dad died, and we were at the funeral, I kissed him on the forehead and said goodbye. My sister thought that was wierd. But it was what I was moved to do at the time. Dad has been dead for 3 years now, and I still miss him. Sometime I think, “I’m gonna call Dad and ask him what he thinks about this” and then I remember that he’s not here. My Mom, who was married to him for over 50 years, says she still talks to him sometimes. And I do too. So don’t worry about what anyone else says. Emotions are beyond our control, and you just feel how you feel. It sounds trite but it is true.

  27. 27
    Didaktylos

    There is no right or wrong way to move through this.

    There is only your way – and you have take it yourself at your own pace.

  28. 28
    magistramarla

    Greta,
    I’m another one who understands.
    I didn’t grieve at all when my mother died – she had been very abusive to me when I was growing up and was hateful to everyone around her. I barely knew my father, so his passing didn’t affect me either.
    My sweet mother-in-law was a different story. She had been the mother that I had always longed for as an abused child. My hubby had the stressful job of caring for her in Florida the last few weeks, while I remained in Texas at my teaching job. I got so stressed out that I became quite ill, and that was when my autoimmune diseases showed themselves. Mom’s death was hard on our entire family. My hubby always feels that he could have, should have done more for her.
    Losing a loved one is difficult, and it takes a long time to come to terms with. She’s been gone for 6 years now.
    Now, we have her portrait hanging where it is easily visible in our home. We joyfully tell and re-tell her many funny stories. I felt that I was channeling her recently when I met my new daughter-in-law and taught her the family recipes that Mom had taught me many years ago.
    It gets better – I promise.

  29. 29
    chuckster2.0

    I went through the exact opposite experience of self doubt when my grandmother died. I felt like I was undereacting to her death. Because a few years before, my dog died. We had to put him down. He was my first dog and I had never seen a dog die before and I get very emotional when animals are involved (I can’t watch King Kong without crying at the end. So when we put my dog down, I must have cried for a week straight. But when my grandmother died, cried for about an hour and from then on I was okay. I was worried that I didn’t care enough or was a psychopath or something. But time has passed now and I have found myself missing her a lot more than I miss my dog. I often catch myself wishing she could see share a new experience with me that I know she would enjoy. I wish she would call and ask about how to use the computer she was learning to use. I have also cried over many times since her death. It’s made me realize that grief is often more complex than we realize and that we should simply accept it as it comes. That’s not to say that we should let it affect our duties and obligations. But we shouldn’t worry about how we feel grief.

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