Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh, what now?!

However difficult a grief attack is, it's always nice to know what is hurting you. When I do break a plate, I understand the reasons as to why it's so painful - and by acknowledging that, facing it, and crying it out, even in the depths of despair I know I am making progress.

What is really, truly unbearable are the times of grief for which you can identify no trigger, no reason and, consequently, no way to acknowledge it. I wrote an exam once, and had to leave early because I was about to break down. Tears started streaking lines down my cheeks as I shut the door behind me, and I had to rush to the women's washrooms to compose myself before I could go home. At the time, I was clueless as to why I was in pain. It was my last exam of the term, all of my stresses were ended for the summer, and I was fully expecting to feel relief. I was miserable for a week.

Only much later did I realize that I found the professor reminiscent of my dad, and so ending the course was a little bit like losing him all over again.

Once I spent a few days in absolute misery, and took time off of work to lay in bed all day. Only later in the week did I realize Father's Day was approaching.

So, what is it now? I was making myself breakfast and - because I currently have the place to myself - singing. I'd had my coffee and a nice shower and I was in good spirits. In the middle of song, I burst into tears. Why?

I let a few tears out (there's no use stifling such emotions) and then when I felt like they had stopped, I cleaned myself up and left for work. All day at work, I felt as though I was a child on a playground with a crowd of big kids circling around me, pointing, laughing, mocking. In reality: I was having pleasant conversations with my colleagues. I ended up leaving early. If I had stayed, I'm sure I would have broken into tears, or started punching people, or had a seizure. I'm sure of it.

I need to cry. Knowing the triggers lets me explore what grieves me, and that exploration always brings me to tears. Right now: I'm totally oblivious, and I have this painful need for release. Maybe I'll get lucky and be able to cry, but more often than not, I can't find anything that will bring myself to tears. Maybe this will be another one of those weeks where I suffer in the dark, and, perhaps, three months later I'll understand just what was wrong.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Other "survivors" (that is, 'suicide survivors,' or people who have lost loved ones to suicide -- I despise the term!) that I have met have talked about how comforting it is to wear the sweater or smell the pillow or sit in the room of their lost one. Because a fire destroyed my house, I'm in the unique position of having no belongings and no rooms to comfort me. The 'stuff' that we did manage to salvage from our home's remains smell (as I like to say) like BBQ.

I long, all the time, to be able to sit in my brother's or parents' rooms and just...remember them. I would have loved to go through their belongings and touch them, and smell them - without having to later wash my hands of the soot. Because all of that tangible memorabilia is in a state reminiscent only of post-tragedy, the few belongings I have that are connected to my family are absolutely priceless. The dishes my mother bought me, the dress she and I bought together, the dollhouse furniture my dad made for me, the gifts my brother bought me. They've reached such an important status that they mean more to me than I ever thought mere 'stuff' could.

Every roommate I've had since, I've forbidden from using those dishes. As much as I understand that accidents happen, I would never be able to forgive them for shattering one of the few connections I have left to the family I've lost. But one can only take so many preventative steps - I broke a dish, a number of months ago. It was all a blur, and I don't remember exactly how it could have happened, but all of a sudden my mother's gift was in shards on the floor. Her voice was echoing in my ears: "Cheap or plastic plates may be better for residence, but you need a nice set of dishes to start out your life with. And with a set of four you can have people over for nice dinners." --- Now, I can't have more than three.

Nearly a year ago, I stepped on and broke a pair of earrings my mom bought me, when my room was a mess. Her voice again - berating me for leaving things on the floor - and then my own voice, chastising me for destroying a precious and near-holy belonging.

Today: I wore a pair of earrings that my mother made for me. I was showing them off to my roommate and her family, and bragging at how talented my mom was. They were earrings that jingled, and I remember what a kick my mom and I got out of the sound. It was a sound like Christmas.

When we got home today, I noticed that at some point a piece had fallen off one of my earrings - the piece that jingled. In any other circumstance - any other pair of earrings - it is so, so insignificant. But for this pair? I've lost another part of a relationship that has reached its end. It is so terrifying. The memories and pictures fade, the stories are forgotten, the belongings break - and nothing new is created to replenish.

The stuff in my life is tantamount to my survival. So every little, jingling piece that falls off an earring is a piece of my heart that withers and dies. And how on earth do I express that without coming across as revoltingly materialistic?