Grief is a Tricky Thing
When you least expect it
There it is rearing its ugly head
Reminding you of the dead.
Draining you of your life
Laughing at your strife.
But when it is gone
A seed is planted
watered with your tears
and in its place
a garden grows.
Grief is a Tricky Thing.
– Linda Lee Lyberg,1994
The months following my husband’s death fill with a cacophony of emotions. Ragged grief grips me at unexpected times. I scream and shed unceasing tears, trying to drown out the unanswerable questions that fill my head
. Why, why why? Am I responsible for his death because I didn’t go to him? Could I have saved him if I had? Grief and guilt are a powerful elixir. Once you drink of them, they are your companions for life.
I write voraciously, eat little. Wine is my friend, but I can never drink enough to dull the intensity of my sorrow. The world becomes a sepia lithograph of somberness devoid of all color except for my grief. Vivid red, violent purples, angry, intense. My sorrow has a life and story of its own that demands recognition. All else dulls around it.
At times I feel him near me and wish for more. I go through every stage of grief in a single day. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A tape replaying in my head, even as I sleep.
He comes to me at night in my dreams. Most of them dark and foreboding;much like what my life has become. He calls for me, begging me to come to him. I try to answer but I am paralyzed.
So much happens during those months that looking back today, I question if it was real or imagined.
Phone calls and when I pick up, nothing but electrical noise. One night, I receive three in a row. The first two nothing but static. The last one, the song Imagine is playing. He was a huge Beatles fan. He loved to play their music. Fancied himself to be John, another tortured soul.
At the time, I am certain it is him, knowing he is communicating with me. In some ways, I still do.
Another experience, I am screaming and crying in the shower with all my clothes on. I can’t stop sobbing. The smoke alarm in my house goes off and startles me out of the whirlpool of grief that is dragging me down,down, down.
I am forever cold. There is no warmth in my world. I cannot rid myself of the grief monkey that is riding my back.
I write poems about it, looking for answers and solace. Nothing helps. Nights are long, foreboding. Everything magnifies, grows enormous in the dark.
I go to work and try to distract myself. I can’t remember something said to me five minutes ago. Grief engulfs me at the most unexpected times. In my office, the piped in music plays “In My Life” and the tsunami wave of my tears return. I ride them, until they finish with me, for the moment.
My days are an endless ocean of tears, sadness, guilt. I know of nothing else. My smiles forced for the benefits of others.
I have amazing support from those who love me. But in the end I am the one who must choose. Life or death. I understand and search my soul.
Will this be the color of my life forever?
Will this one-act of selfishness define me the rest of my days?
In my darkest hour with tears spilling, I kneel beside my bed and bow my head in prayer.
With those four words, my melancholy burden lifts.
Linda Lee Lyberg