Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Don't Know What I Expected of Grief

But it wasn't this.

Where do I start writing?

I've lost people before, but no one nearly as close as my dad.

I'll just say that the overwhelming feeling, the one most constant in the three months since he died, is disbelief.

In the past when I would hear about the "denial" stage of grief (and I want to be clear that I don't believe at all in the "stages" of grief) I naively thought that denial was somehow by choice. As though the person would be telling themselves "I know my dad has died, but I choose not to deal with it yet, so I'm going to ignore it until I can bear it." As though it was that cut and dried and premeditated.

Never did it occur to me that the most difficult part of losing Dad would be my inability to believe that he's gone.

So I guess what I expected of grief was the dark and ongoing gut-punch of missing him. Aching for the chance to see his face when I drive to my hometown. The chance to feed him his dinner, wipe his mouth, clean his teeth, give him a neck trim, put lotion on his face. The endless small things, communicative but not in the usual way, that our relationship had become.

The oddity of the whole picture is that I do have the gut-punch, even though I'm still waking up in the middle of the night and realizing, freshly, that he's gone. I forget it by morning and have to learn it again. I'm tired of learning it and I'm tired of it being true.

It reminds me of a news story I saw decades ago about a former concert pianist stricken with a brain disorder that left him with aphasia. Each day he "met" his wife. Each day his wife offered him a cup of coffee and each day he accepted it, saying "Oh, I'd like to try it. I've never had coffee before." And each day he proclaimed it delicious.

Though major parts of his memory had been thieved away by the illness, this man was left with his ability to play the piano. So there he sat, magnificently playing Chopin, lost to the world around him.


  • At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Beautiful - glad you are back writing on your blog. Poola

  • At 4:55 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks, Poola. ;)

    Not sure how regular I'll be. I'm still trying to figure things out.

  • At 6:14 PM, Blogger The Lapsed Victorian said…

    This couldn't have been easy to write, Candy, but I'm happy to see you dipping your toe back in the bloggy waters. When you're ready to write, I'll be ready to read.

    (It's Jackie O. "The Lapsed Victorian" is just my blogger name.)

  • At 10:37 AM, Anonymous MightyMighty said…

    I hate that feeling of hollow, where grief should be, but forgetfulness lies instead. I had this for nearly two years after my cousin died; I kept forgetting she was gone, usually after I had bought something for her or thought, "I can't wait to tell her this." Then I would be unmoored, again. It felt like a totally abnormal response. And then, one spring, I went to her grave, and for the first time since she had died two years earlier, I did not completely lose it and was rather surprised by how "normal" it felt to be at her grave, rather than her house. I accepted that she had been called home and wasn't trying to make the story have a different ending.

    Anyway, I love you.

  • At 1:39 AM, Blogger Steve Berven said…

    Good to see you back. After my dad died, I would have dreams where it was all a big mistake. A hoax. A joke. He would show up after selling tires at Sears in Connecticut for a couple of years and apologize for being gone for so long. Weird stuff like that. My brain trying to reinsert him into my life or something.

    It's tough, I know. You basically have to redefine your world. Never an easy process.

  • At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Oneavid said…

    Lost my Dad 2 years ago this 4th of July. I don't have anyone to listen to Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw or Glenn Miller with. Saw my mom last week and she told me in a quiet moment "I still miss him."

    It is hard for me, sometimes, an undemonstrative stick man. I can not imagine the thoughts you struggle with, being the sensitive soul you are. Blessings on you and your family. I hope you don't mind me intruding on your thoughts.

  • At 5:10 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thank you for the comments. I'm slow on the response these days, but grateful. And you can't imagine how much it helps to hear what you've gone through with your own losses.

    Oneavid, that was definitely not an intrusion! So glad to hear from you.

  • At 8:29 PM, Blogger E. said…

    I feel for you, so much. Grief is so hard. It was like being underwater for me, for months. But even once the water recedes, you still get hit with a wave suddenly.

    When my grandpa died, I had to grieve him as he was the couple years before he died - diminished, sweet but not all there. But after that was over, I needed to go back and grieve the man I lost before he died, when the steep decline of aging took away so much of who he had always been. That was unexpected, and perhaps for that reason, harder.

    I will never stop missing them. May the circle be unbroken in the sweet by and by.

    Peace to you as you wade through all your own stages and phases.

  • At 1:07 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    E., I so needed to hear something about "the sweet by and by." And about the different pieces of grief. Thank you.


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