Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something, a spouse, a close friend, a beloved pet, even a plant… that has died. I find it rather curious that society doesn’t pay much attention to this grieving thing. Oh you have the first few hours after the death then the funeral that people do pay attention to. But after that? You’re pretty much on your own. Grieving the loss of a loved one has physical, emotional, social, spiritual and even sometimes financial responses and dimensions. By the way, bereavement refers to the state of loss while grief is the reaction of that or to that loss. Often the terms become interchangeable, but for me they are both entirely different.
Its natural this grief thing. Suffering from the loss of someone you’ve loved that is taken away. Usually society connects grief with the death of a person, but people can also grieve in other ways, loss of things familiar to you, losing your job that you heavily relied on to pay your bills. Loss of your health, or the end of a relationship that didn’t end in death. I’ve felt many of those different types of grief, but the one I had the most difficult time…the one most challenging is the grief over the loss of my husband. That one has been, at times, debilitating. Even now on the anniversary of his funeral I feel the loss–his absence.
However, this loss of a love, one so important, so intimate, so deep also taught me something. While grieving it occurred to me that we must love one another better. What does that mean exactly? Well, for starters I realized that the things Mike and I argued about were in fact just stupid. None of the “issues” were worth fighting about, not in the grand scheme of things, and while we were bickering we were squandering time. I learned this early on, after Mike’s diagnosis, but I didn’t apply what I knew until a few months later.
Where I live, the trash is picked up on Mondays. Each and every single week I would remind Mike to take the trash out to the curb and each and every single week he would forget. The first time I had to bring in the trash cans, after his death, I was dragging them up the driveway. It was dark and cold and I was alone with nothing but my misery, my grief and my thoughts for company. As I was dragging those trash cans up I remembered how many times I had complained to him, take them out! You didn’t take them out! This time though it hit me…it just doesn’t matter. The trash gets taken out or it doesn’t. So what?! It isn’t all that important, not when you consider everything else. I wasn’t immune to my stupidity while I was bringing the trash cans in…no, in my grief I loved Mike even more right then because once in a while he would remember to take the stupid trash cans out and that was a special thing. I thought…if only I could do it over again. If only I knew then what I know now, that is just doesn’t matter. I LOVE HIM and that really is all that matters! Now? He will never take them out because he’s gone, but I know that it just doesn’t matter who takes out the stupid trash cans.
Loving better means, at least for me, to not sweat the small stuff, to not get riled up about the stupid crap that comes out of people’s mouths. At work, I just don’t care that the people are unhappy. I see their unhappiness as mostly self imposed and that there IS a better way of doing this life thing. I am no expert at it and I’ve been failing lately at being forgiving, at being understanding and mostly at being able to ignore some people who just really have no clue, at all.
However, on the flip side is the possibility of letting too many things slide without attention. Within my grief I’ve lost tolerance for some and gained tolerance for others. Its a curious thing really. I’ve had people in my life that have just really insulted me, hurt my feelings, disregarded my very existence and I let them slide…in what I consider bad behavior. Why do I do this? Oh I don’t know entirely, forgive them because they are drunk and stupid and clueless I guess. Or forgive them and ignore them because they simply don’t know, haven’t learned the lessons I’ve learned. Those are lessons I don’t wish on anyone. Or forgive them because if I don’t then I’ll have no friends? Pfffftttt that’s a stupid reason to allow abusive people to stay in your life. One person in particular that comes to mind has really been bothering me for a while…over 3 years. You can’t say I didn’t give her a chance! Even despite knowing what I know I think I have finally reached my maximum tolerance of this person. I know she doesn’t know me, not really. She didn’t know Mike and she didn’t know Mike AND Me so she sort of gets a “pass”…but she used that “pass” for over 3 years! Oh she can be kind, generous and even charitable. BUT she is also a self proclaimed alcoholic and she does drink…a LOT! Once she has had about 10 or 18 cans of Natural Light in her system then she starts talking like she is Dr. Laura, which she is most definitely not. But in my opinion, everyone has value, everyone has something to say….even if its slurred. But at times she really talks but makes no sense. Other times she’d down right insulting to me personally and while I’ve never exploded on her, its because I have gone through the states of grief and know that life is complicated and she doesn’t know that.
So what brought on this “final straw” with her? She had a dog….a Husky come into her yard. This dog was young and it got along rather well with her other dogs. I should mention these dogs are part pitbull and rottweiler and something else…in other words, mean and not trustworthy. She also has a German Shepard that has bitten me, causing deep cuts to the inside of my knee. I did tell her that it was a good thing we were friends or her homeowner’s insurance would be paying a claim in 30 days. Anyway, her dogs are old and cranky now and not entirely sociable so when this young Husky came bounding into the property, she decided to keep him/her. I told her she can’t and she has a responsibility to find its owner. She didn’t like that, but neither did I care. Her mother posted on social network the dog and so did I…along with her contact numbers, cell and home. For the record I didn’t post it in the public arena, only in local/private groups. However, this absolutely inflamed her!! She text me over and over and finally said….”lose this number”. Ok, I can do that. I can do that because I know now, in this grieving thing that life does not need to be this hard, this difficult, nor this toxic. I’m ok with losing that number.
Its been a few days now and I’m still ok with losing that number although she did text and asked if she (and husband) could come over this past weekend. I said, naw, not right now. I am just done. I know the difference between love and indifference after all.
Grieving has taught me that life is short…way too short! For sure it is too short to waste on stupid people…not the low IQ sort, but the humanity sort of stupid. That people I care about need to be respected. They need to know I care about them and I try to tell them I care about them and I am grateful for our friendship. Unfortunately, the people in my social sphere are not always privy to what I know so they don’t understand completely why I make a point of telling them I care about them. Although there are a couple, Christina and Rene that are capable of hearing my positive affirmations of their character and that I deeply care about them without a sarcastic scathing comment in response.
Grieve makes us love better. I do love this “friend” but I know she doesn’t love me. That’s ok too, because I think I just love anyone now who gives me the time of day. I didn’t before because I didn’t have to, but now I am alone and I find it essential to be nice, to be loving, even when I don’t feel like it. Regarding this “friend” I don’t know if she knows the full meaning of love. For that I’m sad. Or maybe she does and she just doesn’t love me! lol If that’s the case I’m ok with that too.
I miss Mike and I love Mike, I think I love him more today then any of the days we were married. I didn’t know that cancer would steal time, I didn’t know that our foolhardy arguments would squander time. BUT I do know all of that squanders time and for that I am sorry, for that I regret not knowing then what I know now.
Ultimately I guess what I have learned consistently is that it just doesn’t matter. All these personality quirks or whatever they are. I know that life really does revolve around love….whom we love, what we love, how we love and it IS the most important thing in life!