When I was in college my "Grammie" died. She was not the first grandparent of mine to die but it was in her death that I feel I experienced my first brush with this thing called grief. I remember being sad, but I also remember months later have a wave of sadness and feeling like I couldn't say anything to my friends at school because they wouldn't understand that my emotion stemmed from a death 3 months ago. How could they understand when just yesterday, and all last week in fact, I was just fine. 15 years later I understand why I felt that way.
When I was 26 my friend Jennifer died. She was like a sister to me. In April she was rushed into emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor that they had just discovered. Before this incident she was the picture of health. She did not drink, smoke, she exercised, meditated, on an on. It was unbelievable. Six months after they did that emergency surgery she died. I saw her health decline, her looks change, her body fail and her mind slip away. I still remember the morning I got the call telling me she was gone. I had visited her the night before at the hospital in Portland and she was in really bad shape. I woke up early...before it was light out and was laying in bed thinking about her. At 7 the phone rang. I knew who it was. All the person said was "Jennifer died this morning". I said "okay" and hung up. There was nothing else to say. It was agonzing, horrible, awful and I just kept thinking how wrong it was that life was continuing outside my window. In the weeks and months ahead I would look up at a blue sky and be brought to tears to think that she couldn't see what a beautiful day it was. I mourned that she would never get married, have a baby, that she would never see me get married, walk into my first home, play with my children. For years after her death I could not speak her name. I didn't want to talk about her with anyone because words seemed cheap to me. I could not explain to anyone how much she meant to me and when I tried it never seemed to do her justice. For years I could be watching a movie or hear a song and I could burst into tears. When this happened I never had to explain anything to Joe or say anything. He would just hug me tight until I finished crying. That's exactly what I needed.
When my Bumpa died he was 93. I remember not being upset about his death. I was sad, yes, especially for my parents and my aunts and uncle. But since it happened so soon after Jennifer's death, I remember thinking that "THIS is how death should happen....after 93 years of living".
These previous experiences (and others) have affected me in the loss of my husband. This time it is different for sure. Every entry on this blog so far has shown what grief looks like for me. I am talking about these things because I find it crazy that in a world where everyone dies, no one talks about how to cope with loss, and how different it is each time it happens.