The Compounding of Loss, Grief, and the Dominoes of Death
The Compounding of Loss, Grief, and the Dominoes of Death
It’s not like people haven’t died your whole life, they have. It’s just they seem far and few between and you were younger and stronger so that didn’t seem real. You were out there in life attacking it with all the gusto that you have in your twenties and thirties. Then in your late forties early fifties, around the time of menopause, they start dying in bulk. You don’t know it at the time that it’s the first domino in a long train of loss.
The first one, well, it’s like a sucker punch hard to the gut. For me, the first major loss that affected my everyday life was my best little furry friend. No, he wasn’t the first of my furry babies to pass but he was my last. So my house because quiet and empty and my heart just broke. He had gotten sick two years before and I had become a full-time caregiver. It was hard but I cherished every minute I had and willing gave my heart and time. I stayed home a lot and some people might have thought that was crazy, perhaps it was, but with him, I had a bond I’ve never had with a human. So, I had time to prepare right, no, you really can’t prepare your heart for the loss. Yes, your mind can logically brace itself, but your heart well it just leaves this huge hole that no one else really can fill.
With every death, there’s a new hole in your heart and at times, it feels like there’s just nothing left to keep it in one piece. When I lost my furry baby, well I didn’t expect to become so completely ill. Lost my voice and became fully sick in bed for a week. The world stood still, it felt like I was trapped in this empty surreal vortex of standing still in pain. That was my first domino, the first loss that I still haven’t recovered from and the second one was a few months away.
Once it’s in motion it just doesn’t seem to slow enough to catch your breath. I knew she was sick, colon cancer, but the call is never one you can hold easily. I remember the day so clearly, I had just flown in to deal with family matters and when I finally got into my rental call I checked my phone. As soon as I saw who had called I knew it was bad news. I called her daughter and had that call in the rental car parking lot. After I got off the call, I sat and cried until I could drive. Because life doesn’t wait for you to grieve…. you have to pick up where you are and keep moving. That is the way of the world, pretend we’re all alright.
It took me a few more deaths before I learned that you are not alright after a death. And we need to learn to say that and give ourselves space and time. Especially, when they start compounding.
There were more deaths, always of those people who were older, your mentors, guides, comforters… the people you’d always looked toward to help you make decisions to navigate your life. The wise ones, that have always seen your worth, even when you couldn’t. The people you took for granted, not intentionally, but inevitably.
And all of this loss during the hardest time of a being a woman, menopause. You already felt insane, now you get to feel it on an even deeper level. Of course, all the younger people in your life are completely clueless, now as an old bitter woman I just look at them with that knowing look of “Your day will come”. All that shit you think is important, you will find out far too late it isn’t. Because you know everything and don’t want to hear experience. Ah, the way of the world. Yes, I’ve been there too.
My father passed unexpectedly, he had all these issues but in the end, died from choking on chicken. Now that is just some crazy. I remember that day, I was driving back home from meeting with a client. I had to pull over to try and comprehend what was being said to me on the phone. I sat in that parking lot for a while, to this day I hate driving past there. It’s like a ghost sits in that parking lot. Ironically, because of my father’s death, grieving and having to take care of his affairs, well I lost that contract, The original program manager that I had worked with for years, had also died so the new one was not kind. I hope they are given some karma for that, I truly do. People do tend to be heartless, don’t they?
Brain fog is what they call it when you are going through the motions after a death. I can honestly say that I have a three-month memory gape after my father died. Which I did not even know was there until I spoke to friends a few months later and was told of our conversations. Auto-pilot was working very well apparently. I was also in charge of his estate, which made perfectly good sense really until you add in grief. When you make these plans it all makes perfectly good sense, then when you are grieving well, it’s like having a band-aid pulled off over and over again. For one year, I had to deal with his estate until it was finally closed. It was one of those experiences that I don’t look forward to having again really. You learn an awful lot about state laws and how they differ and the insanity that is the legal system.
My favorite example was that I had to be bonded to be the executor of his estate because I lived out of state. So the bond was to protect the people that would inherit the estate. In plain English, because I lived out of the state of where my father lived I had to have a bond to protect me from me. I believe that cost $1,600. Never mind that it’s stupid as shit, that’s the law.
The rules, laws, processes are insane, honestly. Dying is not an easy task these days. If you have loved ones that will need to deal with your shit do them a favor and get your affairs in order. Because this is fucking hard when you are grieving the loss of them. I find people who pretend they will never die are very selfish. You will PERIOD.
The next year, approximately two months after my father’s affairs were completed, my mother died. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I didn’t grow up with my mother so well that was a whole different experience. I had reconnected with her twelve years prior but it was never close. You just can’t wish relationships to appear and erase all those years. But we had at least talked some. But abandonment is a hard hurdle to get past. It has affected every aspect of my life and continues to, so we weren’t close. But I paid way to much for a flight to a place I hate with a deep passion to do what I knew I had to do. I went to the wake, the funeral and met my half-siblings for the first time. Bit of mind fuck there you know. I never knew how to feel about this loss. It was just one more that was hard. But I could leave and be done. Those half-siblings, well, got a couple of texts from one.
Then the next year, well, the aunt that raised me died, my neighbor who was like a mom passed, hell even my mechanic died. By this time, I’ve gotten pretty dark. Hanging out at the edge of the rabbit hole an awful lot. Now, I don’t know if this happens to everyone but it did to me, it feels like the world is just ghosts… every time you turn around you are reminded of another person missing. And you don’t have your support network anymore. There is no sunshine. Just this constant pain/ache that drones on and on. Because you are face to face with this thing called mortality and now you are looking at your own intently.
I lost all zest for life, I saw no meaning, no clarity, no hope. I’d like to say that this gets better and yadda, yadda. But I’d be lying, it’s hard, I haven’t found my way clear yet. But I am trying. I don’t like to be weak, vulnerable, or needy. I’ve never had the luxury of having a lean back, exhale, ever in my life so being those things hurts also. I don’t think suicide is a bad thing, I think sometimes it just hurts really bad and finding a release can be desperately sought.
I would say we all survive and nourish our soul in different ways. I typically lean away from people to lick my wounds, but in this instance, I have found that perhaps your loved ones are the lifeline to pull you out of the rabbit hole. If you are strong and independent, asking for yelp is the hardest thing to do.