Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Big Chill

So this is it, that 'new normal' everyone warned me about. I can't say I think much of it. My days are filled with a busyness that feels, even to me, somewhat pathological. I'm fully of "plans"--minor house repairs, mundane academic tasks, unpacking the stuff that never got unpacked when we moved. I wade through the paperwork of death, settling our estate, moving money around for my daughter, changing the name on various accounts, arguing with our health insurance over the final sets of medical bills. It fills my days. But none of it matters, and even as I scurry around taking care of business, "coping," and "doing what has to be done," a part of me stands back and knows that it's all meaningless.

I worried that I would cry too much. Instead, oddly, I cry too little. My eyes don't seem to tear anymore. I worried that every small object, every photo, and a thousand tiny acts each day would bring waves of sorrow; instead, I wander around like a visitor (and a relatively uninterested one, at that) in my own life. My mind is wrapped in a thick scratchy blanket of detachment. I try to recall specific memories of my life Before, but they are locked off.

My friends are getting tired of my "processing." When I try to talk about how everything has changed, about how empty my life is, I see looks of compassionate boredom. They don't want to hear me speculate endlessly about how I am going to fill the rest of my life. I can't say as I blame them; I'm pretty boring these days.

Widowhood, for me, has meant returning to a largely female world. I have several wonderful male friends, but without the day-to-day presence of a man in our house, my daughter and I are stuck in a world of women, and desparate for the comfort of a male presence. Of course it's one man, in particular, that we are missing--but I've notice that we both gravitate to any man around in the absence of the one we really want. It's something I hadn't anticipated--I should have, maybe, but it didn't occur to me that one of my difficulties would be gendered in this way.

I keep telling myself to write about something else. I don't really want to. I don't feel like blogging--I have nothing to say. Worse yet, I don't really care that I have nothing to say. I'm writing this out of a kind of residual blogger guilt: "I should keep up my blog." But as with everything else these days, I can't say I really care.


At 5:17 AM , Blogger grumpyABDadjunct said...

I'm very sorry about your partner's death. I am familiar with recent death myself, my daughter was born and died about a year and a half ago and I know how difficult it can be after someone you love dies and you are left picking up a lot of pieces.

I also understand what it is like to need to talk when people are loath to listen. Some of them are bored, you are right, some of them are frightened and some just want to put their fingers in their ears and not deal with it. You need to find people you can talk to endlessly about what you need to process; getting yourself a grief therapist might be a good idea. We did this and it was very helpful, not only could we process our own stuff but we could also make better sense of why other people were not being particularly helpful. You could also start a grief blog, I have a blog that is devoted to my daughter and my grief and that has been very helpful to me.

Move when you can, stop when you must. I wish you and your daughter the time and space and support you need to heal.

At 2:13 PM , Blogger OTRgirl said...

I, too, eventually went to a counselor after my Mom's death. I just needed someone where I could relax in knowing it was their JOB to listen to me talk about whatever I wanted to discuss. I got tired of trying to figure out who was willing to listen. That was more trouble than it was worth most of the time...

At 2:32 PM , Anonymous Squirrely_jedi said...

I've been reading your blog for a little while now, and have not been sure I've had any words worth giving.

I am so sorry that you've been forced to endure such a terrible loss, and I know there is nothing to be said or done that can make the pain even begin to dissipate. But I do wish for you an eventual peace (difficult to obtain, I know) that will help you to endure what this 'new normal' will deal to you.

I have been in similar situations where those around me have not wanted to accept that certain things have happened, and they try to sweep everything under the rug prematurely to make life less troubling for themselves. But you are the only one that determines how you are feeling. I wish you the strength to continue your "processing," however your soul sees fit to do so, and hope that you can find a comfortable space to simply breathe for a while.

At 6:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm listening out here in cyberspace. hugs

At 8:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still reading, still thinking about you and your daughter everyday.

At 1:37 AM , Blogger Lonely Londoner said...

Blog if you want to. Don't blog if you don't want to. Do what's best for you, and fuck everything else. It's okay to feel the way you feel.

I'm listening out here, though, as we all are. Not with compassionate boredom, but just with compassion. And we'll listen for as long as it takes.

At 11:56 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

What you have gone through has shocked you to the core. This is why you feel detached, I'm sure. The tears, the waves of sorrow, they will come. The brittle shell around you is a survival technique built into your soul. Keep putting one foot in front of the other until it becomes a pace. Lean on us out here; we care, we're not bored, and we won't roll our eyes or wish you would shut up.
A grief therapist is a great idea. They don't get to get fed up...they're not allowed.
I'm so sorry, Dorcasina, so sorry. Don't blog if you don't feel like it, but know that if you do, we will respond. Sending loving thoughts and warmth over the big chill.

At 2:48 PM , Anonymous mindspin said...

I think of you daily, and I have plenty of company in that, I can see. So when you don't feel like writing know you're being thought of anyway, and when you do, know that you have people here who are listening because they care, and for the long haul.

At 4:50 PM , Blogger Bad Alice said...

Hi, I drop by now and then to check in. When my mom died I cleaned my house so intensly that I was dusting the baseboards with a toothbrush. I thought I might be loosing it because I normally avoid all housework. Grief is . . .a lot work, and maybe a therapist would help. People just aren't very well conditioned in this culture to help and listen to someone grieving.

At 8:18 PM , Anonymous ehj2 said...

The only thing we can offer another is our Self. Incredibly and generously, you keep doing that ... offering us your Self.

It may help to know that you are far more clear and balanced and beautiful and true than you might imagine.

Your words are spiritual food even though it is unlikely that you intend them as so.

I am so sorry for the rocks and burdens on your path today. Even at rest, writing one of your poems on the aching world, you are among the brightest lights we know.

Tenderly, respectfully, sorrowfully, anguishedly, prayerfully,


At 10:35 PM , Blogger Ancrene Wiseass said...

What Lonely Londoner said.

We still care and will be here whenever you choose to write, if you choose to write. But we also know that you need to do what you need to do for yourself and your daughter.

At 7:34 AM , Blogger Songbird said...

Dorcasina, my prayer for you is someone in your life who can listen well and truly. After a devastating pregnancy loss, I felt as you do about the response of others, but eventually found unexpected listeners whose deeply felt compassion brought me to the next step on the journey. Although they did not necessarily remain in my life in any active way, I treasure them still.

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At 3:52 PM , Blogger Porkorama said...

Dorcasina...I came to visit your blog because of a comment you left on my blog some time ago, about how your PhD defense was bad but you still got your degree. I just defended today and had a similar experience and recalled your comment... I came here feeling shitty about myself...and suddenly encountered another person's grief. Your grief.

I just wanted to say that your words echoed deep within me. I have lost many friends, but one person in particular whom I loved very much and who's loss I still mourn, 15 years later.... and each moment you describe, it resonated with what I felt. I would say that I understood, that someone is listening and knowing, that it fucking sucks that "even the despair or remorse or bereavement is not particularly important to the Dark Diceman"...but I can't possibly imagine what it is like to lose a husband, the father of your child.

I only know what it is like to lose the first person who assuaged your eternal loneliness, to lose the soulmate you had miraculously found.

"Know"--what the hell do I mean by know? Loss is incomprehensible.

I remember I used to think, "I'm hope in love with memory...."

I thank you for sharing your inner life and wish you what you wish.

At 4:42 PM , Blogger ABDmom said...

You know from our talks--both in the blogosphere and in person--that my therapy was a godsend in dealing with my grief (and my loss was not nearly as devastating as yours). I think counseling, whether it be specifically with a grief counselor or a therapist used to working with grief issues (which is the path I took) is a necessity.

It was for me, anyway, due to the issues you describe. The people whose bored faces screamed,"Aren't you over it yet?", even if they had enough tact to not speak their thoughts. The people who didn't have that tact and said, "Come on, you knew she was going to die." Yes, well, we all *know* we're going to die, but it's a whole different kettle of fish when death leaps up and slaps you in the face.

As lonely londoner said, if you want to blog, blog. If not, fuck it. You can't say fuck it to a lot of the heartbreaking things you have to deal with right now (the loss of your beloved, being a single mom, etc), so say fuck it to the things you *can* control. If that's the blog, then so be it.

At 9:13 PM , Blogger susan said...

Dorcasina, I've been checking back and thinking about you, your daughter, your grief, your husband (as though the clicks of a lurking reader would do you good). Write if you want, if it helps, if these comments and clicks give you a listening ear that is helpful in some way. Stop writing, too, if the blog is an obligation you construct that gets in the way of your grieving. Grieving just takes time, and energy, and you only have so much. Use it for yourself and your daughter.

At 7:10 AM , Blogger academic coach said...

"bored compassion" -- oh, that sounds difficult. You do need to process...

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