In the heartbreakingly funny auto-biogrophy of Cupcake Brown’s “A Piece of Cake”, she describes how alcohol talks to you. Who do you think convinces the drunk man that he drives *better* drunk? Or that the stranger in the bar is after his woman? And it turns on you, after you did the stupid thing the drink tells you to do, it says, “Ooooooo, you done fucked up now!”
Well, I’ve noticed that grief talks to you too. It’s like an electrical current, looking for any route to take to ground. It’ll transform into any emotion it needs to be to get out of your body and into the world.
It can shift into guilt. I noticed this a lot after my cat Leo died. I re-lived his final hours over and over, wondering what I could have done differently, even as my thinking brain *knows* I did all I could, and I’d made the right choices. Even so, the grief talks, and says, “What if? But maybe!” The same voice turns into a teasing kid on the playground: “It’s too late now, isn’t it, sucker!”
Or, grief can morph into anger and outrage, it can invoke the dreaded DRAMA TRIANGLE! (duh duh duhhhhh!) You know, that negative feedback loop where one person is the victim, another is a persecutor and the third is the rescuer? Then some unknown square-dance caller shouts a turn and everyone switches places – the victim becomes the persecutor, the rescuer is the new victim and on the terrible merry dance goes. I’ve seen friendships implode through this dynamic of grief, and it’s pretty terrible what this can do to families who are all grieving together.
So if grief is making you or someone in your life act unreasonably, just remember, they’re suffering. Their grief is telling them stories, and they can’t see what’s really happening.
Grief can even pretend to be your friend, bubbling into the ground in giddy laughter, joy and relief. Laughter that releases pain and hurts to laugh – or maybe is genuine happiness with just an aftertaste of guilt.
The trickiest trickster trick of grief is that it can convince you that you are alone in the world, and can cause you to shut out those who wish to help you. Don’t let it do that to you.
Grief is a selfish bitch.
My mother passed away at three am on Thursday.
When I was a teenager tying up the family phone line, Mom would pick up the extension and imitate Queen Elizabeth – it was a teasing attempt to embarrass her kid, but all my friends were drama geeks and just ate her impression up. One guy even called her “Queen E.”
With her exaggerated, royally-affected English accent, “Queen E” would inform me, “Hem, hem! The royal schnauzer is due for her evening constitutional!”
This was Mom’s way of telling me to get the hell off the phone and into the fresh air and sunshine.
Now, as I experience and observe the shifting voices of grief inside of me, I also hear Queen E’s voice, quoting the real Queen Elizabeth’s consoling words, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
Thank you everyone for your kind words on facebook. Alas, internet was NOT installed in my house on Friday as promised and has been bumped back to MAY 7th! Can you believe that??? A local cable company should be able to get us basic connectivity before then, so please wish us luck. Meanwhile, I do my best with emails, I apologize for the delay in my response. I’m using cell phone minutes to access the internet, so I have to do it sparingly!