“Grief is Messy”

I finally figured out why I feel so out of sorts and am stalled in my writing. I believe it’s because I’m grieving. My brain is saying, “Duh!” And I may be afraid. Afraid of running out of time. Afraid of losing the Babe. And afraid of not being missed after my demise. Foolish woman. I cannot control that. Nor do I want to.

Some of it is real. Some of it is silly. I know logic is nowhere to be found when emotions take over. Yet, to be human is to feel these emotions. To deal with human emotions is to feel all the feels. And grief is one so misunderstood and mis-handled. I know. I’ve done it.

With yet another funeral this week for the Babe’s brother-in-law, I expect lots of feelings. I’ll see the family with their grief, and witness their celebration of a life well lived. There will be stories. And oh, there will be toasts. And there will be tears.

We need to be mindful of grieving. We need to accept all people grieve differently. That said, I remember when my dad died in 1988. I’d lost my best friend earlier that year, had a nasty breakup with someone who wanted to marry, my grandmother died, my former father-in-law died, then Dad. I was a wreck. The hurt was too much for me. I withdrew emotionally. I never wanted to hurt that bad again.

My brothers and I all grieved in inappropriate ways. Alcohol, some used drugs, and we were angry. Dad got robbed. He was a nose to the grindstone worker all his life. He wanted to take a European trip with his Blackhawk Division from the US Army. They were to follow the same path through Europe. They followed Patton the first time. He was so happy about getting the opportunity.

It wasn’t to be. Mom was angry, too. Only she became angry when we tried to talk about Dad. We stuffed our feelings around her. We never have heard her cry about it. And we’ve not heard her say she misses him. To this day, I’m afraid to ask how she feels; does she really miss him? We may never know. We needed to grieve as a family, and we couldn’t. It feels unfinished all these years later.

Since then? I’ve learned so much about grief. I’ve studied it deeply, learning so much. And I’ve told my kids I was sorry about being withdrawn. They don’t remember, but I do. There was chaos for them with my brothers, and we’ve talked about that. Lessons learned all the way around. I’m still learning.

From real life, the movie, “We Are Marshall” is an excellent study of grief. A small engine plan crash killed nearly the entire football team from Marshall University in Alabama. It devastated the town. The team members and coaches who were not on the plane suffered survivor’s guilt. As the story unfolds, the University nixes football but eventually hires a new football coach. Matthew McConaughey plays the new head coach, hired to rebuild the team. The key line in the movie is when the father of one player tells the cheerleader girlfriend, “Grief is messy.” It explains why she must leave and build her life. She must live. In his devastation, he finally goes back to his life, whatever that will look like after his loss.

None of us knows. Until it happens to us, we do not know how we will react. I don’t need to borrow trouble from tomorrow by speculating on how I’ll feel. Or how I’ll survive. Because I will. No doubts about that. The unknown is scarey. All we can do is gain knowledge about what’s unknown in life. Grief is worth studying. Sitting with grieving people is worth it. Expressing yourself is worth a lot. Being an example is great. Healthy grieving is not only critical, it’s necessary. It’s messy.

I feel a little lighter now. Admitting what’s going on is necessary to solve any funk you may find yourselves in. Just remember, I felt emotions. I had to feel them. To find my way through them, I had to admit them. Still, I’m afraid; just not petrified. I will get through whatever comes my way. I have to. There is much left to do, many stories to tell. Accepting our humanness is a mere step in living the life they meant us to.

Have a beautiful day. Cleaning up is in order, and laundry. Normal, everyday stuff. Isn’t is nice? The windows can let in the fresh, spring air. Yes, it’s going to be a great day. See you tomorrow!

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