Monday Morning Haiku (In the Evening)

Recently, in a bizarre turn of events, and through no fault of my own (this time at least, lol) I lost a close friend.  She just dropped out of my life.  Repeated attempts to contact her and find out why have been ignored.  I have texted, called, and emailed.  I could drop by her house, but it seems too confrontational.  At any rate, some of my stuff is there and I may have to at some point anyway if she continues to ignore me.  I have my suspicions her on again/off again asshat boyfriend has something to do with this.  That is not to say she still isn’t responsible for not standing up to him if he has in fact issued her an ultimatum.  I am angry and hurt and I go back and forth and sometimes am both at the same time, and it doesn’t help that I see her everyday when I pick my child up from school. She is always conveniently looking the other way, engrossed in some task .  Anyway, it has occurred to me on more than one occasion that I feel like a jilted lover.  Like I was dumped, without the courtesy of even a “fuck you” text.  It has occurred to me that we grieve all sorts of relationships, and not just after a death.  On that note, (which no doubt makes this haiku less ascerbic and more sad)…

 

The Stages of Grief part 1

The stages of grief

Are not really a straight line.

More like a zig zag

 

The Stages of Grief part 2

First I was confused.

Then I was angry, then sad.

Now I’m pissed again.

 

 

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Photo credit Lucia Merino

Good-bye, Robin. I’m Sorry.

I’m sure people will be posting ad nauseam on here about Robin William’s apparent suicide…and that’s okay.  It has occurred to me more than once how Facebook and other social media have come to play a big part in our grieving process, from sharing memories, to revelling in our loved one’s presence for just a bit longer, to sharing our grief with others…

But I just want to say one thing, and it’s about mental illness…depression….anxiety.

It’s amazing how many people do not have a full understanding of what true clinical depression and anxiety are like.  These illnesses are diagnosed now more than ever before, and I’m sure their inevitable over-diagnosis leads some people to believe they are not that serious.  True clinical depression and anxiety are not situational.  “Why are you sad?  Why are you anxious? Did something happen? Are you unhappy?” or by extension “What reason do you have to be depressed?”

As someone who suffers from both anxiety and depression since early childhood, I don’t mind answering honest questions, but I am tired of the stereotypes, and especially tired of the use of the term “mental illness” as a buzz word or scapegoat for every dirtbag that would walk into a school with a gun and blow through a clip before shooting himself, thus putting us out of his misery.

This, what happened to Robin Williams, is the true face of mental illness in this country.  For me personally, having grown up always with this man in the periphery, his voice talents, his acting, always with good cheer and humor, (not to mention the fact that he reminds me of my Dad in some ways,) the idea that someone so warm and (by all accounts) genuine and caring, felt low enough to take his own life is unutterably sad.

Yes, he left behind a wife and grown children who will grieve him, but he didn’t take it to a public place with the intent to harm others or to garner attention or fifteen minutes more in the spot light.  He went quietly, and in the end the person who suffered the most was him.

Not with a bang but a whimper. 

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Good-bye to Another Friend

Got word today via Facebook (again! Damn you with your double edged sword of keeping me in touch with people/always being the “first” to break bad news.)  I suppose I should just be glad I found out at all, living as far away from most of my high school friends as I do.    We lost another person from our graduating class.  It feels like our class has lost quite a few people these past few years.  We’re only 32-34 years old.  We’ve lost friends to epilepsy, cancer, suicide, even murder.

My friend Scott passed this weekend.  He was one of my homeroom buddies back in high school, and unlike a lot of Facebook “acquaintances,” we actually did still interact with one another on Facebook.  Oddly, in some ways I learned more about him from Facebook than our time back in high school– like, for instance, what a sensitive soul he actually was.  This is so weird because…and I know it sounds so obvious it’s stupid, but…  he was just here not too long ago.  Now he’s not.

It seems most of us (that is, the people in our class, our “mutual friends” on Facebook,) don’t know cause of death; it’s being kept quiet right now…which for me tends to rule out accident, illness, etc.  And I guess it doesn’t really matter how he died.  He is just as gone.  And yet, knowing seems to be a piece in coming to terms with the loss…and in some cases, satisfying a sort of morbid curiosity many of us feel towards the death of someone we know who is not necessarily in our immediate circle of friends.  Along the same vein, I can’t help but be annoyed by the requisite number of busybodies and drama mongers (online), attempting to put themselves in the middle of everything, trying to make the loss somehow more about them.  (You disgust me, but this isn’t the time for me to call you out on it.)

Because of the internet and social networking, we are now highly in tune with the everyday goings-on of people we might not get to otherwise interact with regularly.  We get our news fast (sometimes too fast, and in a less than sensitive manner.)  It makes me wonder, are all these losses just a normal part of “growing up,” aging?  Are the amount of deaths in our age group just the relatively normal “fall off” of people, and we are only so aware of it because of the internet?

It’s also weird to think about it…like I said, he was here, now he’s not.  Chances are, he didn’t know he wouldn’t be here today.  Did he know how many people would miss him?  Tag his name in Facebook statuses and say nice things about him…

 

And (quietly) *to myself*…

One day will I be just a tagged name on Facebook? 

 

In Memory Of Scott (1981-2014)

 

Related:

Rest In Peace, Jer and Ricky

Things Not to Say/Rest in Peace, Greg

Doggy Heaven: The [Bifröst] Bridge

I love animals, I do work at my local shelter, and am currently working towards becoming a certified dog trainer.  I  presently have two cats, one of which is a rescue cat, and if I had room, I’d bring the dogs home too.  I lost my oldest shelter cat to cancer about a year and a half ago, and I was actually present when my childhood pup was euthanized.   

I tell you all this so that no one assumes I don’t care about or understand the issues facing homeless animals or shelter life, etc. because what I am about to say may be unpopular to some of the more sensitive “animal people.”  Although I understand people wanting to think comforting things when they lose a beloved pet or animal companion, I really don’t get the Rainbow Bridge thing.  

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of a work of poetic prose written some time between 1980 and 1992, whose original creator is unknown. The theme is of a mythological place to which a pet goes upon its death, eventually to be reunited with its owner. It has gained popularity amongst animal lovers who have lost a pet. The belief shows similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse mythology (source).

I guess it is supposed to be like Doggy Heaven or whatever.  I don’t even really believe in people heaven, but I recognize and respect that there are a huge number of people in this country and others that do.  But does anyone really believe in the fabled Rainbow Bridge?  I’d assume it is used mostly as a metaphor for our beloved animals finally being at peace in the afterlife…or something.  But I swear, the way some people talk about it, it seems to have taken on a afterlife of it’s own.

**EDIT: I swear, I just saw a perfect example of this.  A friend’s dog passed and one of his friends told him “…hes crossed the rainbow bridge and running and playing with all the other luved furbabies who have left..hope him and [my cat] are chillin together…”  Maybe some people would find comfort in that… but if someone said that to me when my cat passed, I’d probably have wanted to throat punch them…   Because to my ears it just sounds like one of those well-meaning but ultimately hollow things people say to grieving people.

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

It is interesting to note that there seems to be some discussion among Christians as to whether or not animals “go to Heaven,” when they die, and whether or not they have “souls.”  Perhaps this is part of the reason some may feel a need for animals to have their very own heaven to go to when they pass from this world.  (1), (2), (3)

But,  though I would not begrudge anyone mourning a loss something that gives them comfort… I don’t believe in deluding myself for comfort’s sake either.

However…this would be nice…

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Do you believe there’s a real Rainbow Bridge?

Do you think animals go to Heaven?

Feel free to (respectfully) discuss!

 

Things Will Never Be The Same

Sorry to be all doomy and gloomy, but that’s how I feel right now.  I know I’ve written before about how time passes and things change.  Especially from childhood to adulthood.  We can never get back our childish naivety or carefreeness.

There are so many beautiful things in life, but there are also times when life feels like nothing but watching the people around you die.

We moved out here several years ago.  There are many friends I fell out of contact with.  A few months ago I found out that one of them, someone with whom I had once been very close (and had since tried in vain to get back in touch with) had passed away.  Technically liver disease, but he wasn’t in the best health when I knew him, and he had some…bad habits.  Ever since, I’ve felt this sense of loss that goes not only with losing a friend, but with feeling like I never got to tell him how much he meant to me.

Tonight, I found out his son, also my friend, has died of an overdose.  I knew they both been in some trouble off and on the past few years.  I had asked after them, trying to get phone numbers from some of our mutual friends, from time to time.

But they had mostly gone their separate ways too.

Our little band of misfits grew apart a bit at a time a few years ago, I think.   I guess life got in the way…and lifestyle choices.  No more movies at the Senator. No more Halloween parties.  No more camping out and car shows together.

And now I guess there never will be.

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This time last year…

This time last year was a bad time for me.  I lost my grandmother and my cat in the same week.  I didn’t make it back to my home state for my grandmother’s funeral…and I buried my cat, my longtime buddy, in a blanket in the park.  My grandma died in a hospital after succumbing to injuries from a fall.  My beloved Neeners died in my lap on the way to the vet’s office for what was to be a second opinion.

I still have a strange feeling of unreality when it comes to my grandma’s passing; maybe it’s from lack of closure because of not being able to be at her funeral.  Most of the time, my grief is sort of a dull sadness that resides in the back of my mind.  The other day, I happened on a photo of her holding my daughter when J* was about three months old, and I suddenly felt the grief rear up, along with the familiar disbelief– denial– I’m really never going to see her again?

With Neeners, my grief is tainted by an unshakable guilt– why did I not do something for her sooner?  Even if I couldn’t save her, maybe I could have at least spared her pain.  What must she have thought of me when I had to give her the medicine that made her sick to her stomach?  Did she think I was torturing her and she didn’t know why?  I feel like I failed her somehow, even when I try to tell myself I did the best I could.  If we had had the money to get the tests she needed for a more accurate diagnosis, sooner…

It’s too late for me to do anything about any of this.  I could try to end this post with some wise thought or platitude about how time marches on and we all die sometime.  Really, my only point with this post was to sort of remember my lost loved ones on this sort of anniversary week of their passing… and hoping that “honoring” them somehow keeps them from being forgotten.

Things Not To Say to A Grieving Person (Me, At Least)

Obviously, when it comes to death, everyone handles it differently.  Though the stages of grief may be similar, every person’s individual experience with grief is unique.  Differerent people find comfort in different things.

Death can be a touchy subject for many, myself included, and that means finding the right thing to say to a grieving person can be hard.  In the wake of losing another acquaintence from high school, I have been reflecting once again on society, people, and the role of social media in the grieving process.  Many people are clueless when it comes to tact, even in their everyday life, but especially in times of other people’s sorrow. Often, even well meaning people unwittingly say the wrong things.

My personal policy is ‘when in doubt, keep your mouth shut.’

Unfortunately, a lot of these people don’t have any doubts about the stupid things that may come out of their mouths.

As I said before, everyone finds comfort in different things, so to say that all grieving people would be annoyed or insulted by these things would be presumptuous of me.  But I will say, when I’m grieving, I do sometimes want to smack people who say certain things.

So here are a few things I try to make it a point not to say to someone who has lost someone else.

1) Who died? – Especially with the emergence of social media sites and “smart phones”, people seem to have forgotten some very basic manners.  If you must look in on your friends’ grief when they post about losing someone, there are waaaay more tactful ways to ask about their loss then “who died?” (Yes, I actually saw someone say this, this morning.)

2) They’re in a better place-  Oh, really?  That’s nice.  Personally, I prefer being above ground to below ground.  Oh, you meant Heaven?  Well, that’s sweet of you to say.  Really a nice thought… except, I’m an atheist, so…yeah, that doesn’t comfort me a bit.

3) At least they’re not suffering- Yeah, you may be right.   Maybe their long battle with cancer is over, or they no longer have to fight their addiction…  Or maybe they were just out with friends last week, having a grand old time, smiling and laughing, enjoying their life until it ended, perhaps suddenly and unexpectedly.  You know… not suffering.  

4) She/He’s lived a good long life-  Yup.  In fact, their life was maybe so awesome and good that they (and the people who loved them) will probably miss them like crazy, and wouldn’t have minded them sticking around for a bit longer.

5) Heaven has another angel- Um… like I said…atheist.  But even if I wasn’t, humans don’t become angels when they die, do they?  I thought angels were created by God before humans ever existed.  Maybe I’m being ungracious, and people are just saying things like this to find comfort in what is likely a very confused and upsetting time. But, again, to me at least, these types of sentiments ring a little false.  They offer me no comfort, and in some cases, not a little bit of annoyance.

6) The good die young- Yep.  But, then again, so do pimps, drug dealers, and, often, rock stars.  Chances are, the deceased was none of the above.  We all have light and dark.  The fact that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to who lives and who dies is part of what makes death so hard to accept.  And please, don’t say

7) It was part of God’s plan

Not to me, anyway.  I might not be able to restrain myself from smacking you and then telling you it was in God’s plan.

I have also heard some people say that they hate it when people say “If you need to talk…”

I personally don’t think that would bother me, unless the person saying it never seemed to notice my existence before my grief.  Some people just thrive on other people’s drama.  And maybe grieving people get tired of talking.  If you feel you must say something else, asking your grieving friend or relative “what can I do (for you/ to help)?” may be reasonably safe, and then leave them the option of what telling you what it is specfically they need (and it may not be someone to talk to…)

Basically, unless your grieving friend opens one of these avenues of conversation (for example: indicating they believe in Heaven, or mentioning that they are glad their loved one’s suffering is done) the best bet when addressing someone who is in mourning is to just say, “I’m sorry” and not much else.

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                              In Memory Of Greg Knapstein (1981-2013)

TV: End of Season Grief

As hubby and I work our way towards the end of yet another much loved television series (at least, the most current season that is available,) I have that familiar feeling, a sort of sadness and disappointment that’s a little like grief.

I know, it sounds silly.  But after a whirlwind journey through the extremely entertaining British comedy-drama, Misfits, I have been mulling over the effect our entertainment can have on us.  If you’ve ever read a really engaging book, (or even better, a series like The Dark Tower novels or Harry Potter), you are likely aware of how you can become transported to another world, and how you can become attached to and love the characters with whom you’ve spent so much time.  I think our television can have a similar effect on us as a good novel.

The original cast of Misfits-- "Kelly, Simon, Alisha, Curtis, and Nathan"

The original cast of Misfits– “Kelly, Simon, Alisha, Curtis, and Nathan”

So, as we began season (series) 4 of Being Human, amidst some seemingly very rapid (and unceremonious) cast changes, I mentioned to my husband the fact that how we view our favorite television programs can actually affect the way they affect us.  

When you watch a particular show on a service like Netflix or Hulu, you can become immersed very quickly.  There is an instant gratification sort of effect.  You don’t have to wait a week for the next episode.  There’s not anxious anticipation, rather a desire to bull through and watch as much as you can (if you’re really into the show.)  If you’re like hubs and I, you’ll watch three or four episodes a night.  You reach the end of a season or series fairly quickly. Consequently, twists in the plot, changes to the cast, and deaths of main characters often seem very abrupt and are a bit of a shock to the system.

Conversely, if you watch a series as it airs on television, obviously it’s going to feel like you spent even longer with the characters…however, if you’re like me, and you get behind on a series, or even just waiting until next week’s episode, sometimes the sense of urgency you feel to see the next episode kinda of gets muted with time. (I went through this when we went without cable for a while; at first I thought I’d just about die if I didn’t see the next episode of True Blood, but after a while I was just like, Meh.)

Still, I think I prefer to be able to watch a series consecutively (thank you, Hulu!)  In addition to having my instant gratification, I never have to wonder “what’s on TV tonight?”  There are less commercials, you can pause for snack or a bathroom break, and rewind when your kid’s screaming (or you have to yell at them for pulling the cat’s tail) and you’ve missed a bit.

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What is your favorite way to watch your favorite shows?  Do you think the way you view your programs effects how they impact you?