Painting to recover from grief

My painting from a writing and painting workshop I went to

I’m taking an online blogging class.  My assignment: a post on why I blog. This is who I am.  I just updated it because in the three and a half years since George died, I’m not nearly as lost, although I’m more curmudgeonly.  Ever have a lawyer who’s supposed to be helping you with probate text you after hours to ask if you want to talk dirty?  Or date some idiot who comments that keeping your husband’s awesome stereo system shows that you have a problem letting go?

And that’s why I write.  Because life without George is so darkly funny.  And absurd.  And it used to make me so mad.  So much writing about loss implies a gravitas:  We lose our loved ones and settle into serenity, content to live with our memories, quietly grateful for our years together,  perhaps now directing our efforts to knitting scarves for impoverished arctic seals.

My late husband and I in the 90's at a party

George and I at a firm party in the 90’s

But that’s not reality.  We’re angry.  (I still haven’t replaced all the wine glasses I broke).   Or we’re unbearably lonely.  Or self-destructive.  I suffered from lasting caregiver guilt over George’s final months.  I was unable to care for him properly and he was in denial, making it impossible to reach our for help.  I started blogging because of the disparity between what grief looks like in books and what it really feels like.  I read On Grief and Grieving…some of it made sense, but  some of it was so removed from reality.   (Don’t drink!  Don’t have sex! Just sit there!)

The worst is the unbearable loneliness.  And the shame that comes from being so lonely or unable to snap out of grieving.  People told me “Just get out there!” when I told them I was a widow with few connections. Offer to listen, extend a simple invitation…but don’t be sickeningly glib.  So, I started writing to say, please don’t ashamed that you’re lonely or you can’t get out of bed today or that the azaleas your husband planted that started blooming today made you cry in the grocery store.

Recovering from grief is so personal.  I don’t know that all of us recover to be as  “happy” as before our loved ones died.  But feeling ashamed about our grief and resulting loneliness or immobility just makes it worse.   So that’s why I’m writing to say:  It’s okay if you feel terrible.  Things are hilarious at times.  Sometimes, you need the cheesecake and Woody Allen movies,

I’ve had some recovery.  I can enjoy travel or reading or even my crazy boyfriend, sometimes.  A dear friend who is a recent widow said that she finds hearing about progress encouraging.  And  better, I can embrace gratitude and letting go of old resentments (probably my next post).

Let’s go through this journey together.

Love, Debbie