I was going to talk about this next week, but it’s been on my mind. (And this post will be scattered, so try and follow the threads.)
Next Tuesday would’ve been my cousin’s birthday. (He would’ve been 38.)
I didn’t have the foresight to ask for it off from work, so that’s going to be an interesting night. Let’s say a tiny prayer that I manage to get through the night without embarrassing myself in public, shall we?
But maybe it’s for the best. That way I am busy and in my general routine and maybe it’ll be fine. And if not, I’ll get through that, too.
It’s also a good day—it’s my godson’s birthday. (Presents have already been sent and have arrived; my goddaughter’s birthday was last week.)
I’m going to try and focus on that and not on the fact that for the first time since I was three years old, I won’t be talking to Rodger on his birthday.
Some friends of mine recently had a death in the family (friends are relatives and so it’s one death, not like I have become some sort of magnet for grieving people) and it got me thinking about grief. (Which as it happens, I am becoming an expert in.) It’s hard to talk about it and sound hopeful as in, “It gets easier! I swear!” because it’s a lie. It gets easier in that you will eventually get though entire hours, then days, then weeks without crying. It gets easier in that you learn what your grief triggers are (for that particular loss, because I’m learning it changes for each one) and how to avoid them.
But “easier” and “easy” are not the same thing.
And my one friend said that she hoped that she gets past this early stage quickly (and there’s no timeline for that, either; that’s an individual thing) and I am not sure how to explain the stuff that goes on past the early stage. The fact that there’s an easing in the immediate grief means that (at least for me) there’s a bit of guilt involved. Which is ridiculous. I doubt that the people I love who are dead are like, “Wow, look at Kelly living her life, being totally fine most of the time. WHILE I AM DEAD. Heartless bitch.”
I know that they love me and they’d be happy that most of the time, I’m able to, you know, NOT be a complete mess of a person, ugly-crying all over the place.
But it feels wrong.
So I didn’t tell her any of that or about my three stages of grief theory.
I think there are three stages of grief. The first part is generally from when you find out until the funeral. We will call that “shock and awe.” You’re sad, yes, but there’s also sort of a certain amount of unbelief, especially if it was a sudden death.
The second stage tends to set in after the funeral. You’re still a mess (probably more of a mess than you were before, because the numb part has worn off) and this is a little worse because your friends have moved on and have stopped checking in on you. So you’re adjusting to your new life and going on as best you can but you keep hitting milestones for the first time (their birthday, your birthday, holidays, and then finally the anniversary of their death) and this is hard because it seems like every time you really get your feet under you, it’s a first milestone and then it’s like it happens all over again.
And I didn’t tell my friend that the third part of grief, the longest and arguably the worst part, is when you realize that the person/people you love and miss are going to miss EVERYTHING. Everything after this point is something you experience without them. That you got through the first year, and that’s awesome. But now you have to get through the second. And the third. And the tenth. And the rest of your life.
I didn’t tell her that because that never cheered up anybody.
But getting back to Rodger, I’m currently firmly in stage two, staggering around and wondering how to celebrate his birthday. On the plus side, after this, there’s nothing ahead until Thanksgiving. On the minus side, there really is no plus side.