Monday, June 13, 2016

On Grief

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Benjamin Franklin 

Over the past 5 months I have had a lot of time to myself, in addition to a lot of time thinking about the big themes in life. I have never thought I would be someone who would have time to ever sit down and challenge how I thought about life, death, and certainly taxes (or other debts.) For me to come out and say the past 5 months were easy, and an enjoyable time off work would be an utter lie. It has been difficult in many ways. 

Grief in Job Loss

When you go through a job loss in a large lay off at the hands of an organization you care deeply for, it's painful. It's a painful loss in my life to feel disconnected from where I thought I was heading, and to feel automatically severed from relationships I was building in hopes to make even bigger changes in the world of chronic illness. I had very good days (my wedding fell right in the middle of this insanity- and that was the best day of my life this far) and I have had very dark days. There was never a rhyme or reason as to when the darkness would hit. Over the past few weeks the dark days are spaced out farther. Dealing with the grief of loss of place, the grief of feeling like a burden on my newly formed family, the curve ball in our future plans has made me realize how connected I am to my need to make change. Every day I sit down and think about what direction I should be taking, and almost every day I come up with a different answer. 

When I hear about all of these people that knew what they wanted to do since they were children, and are doing it or pursuing it....I am envious. I don't have just one thing that drives me in a choice for a career. I know that I want to keep writing, but I can do that without it driving my career. What I know I want out of a career is the ability to continuously learn and keep pushing myself, and the ability to advance so I don't feel stagnant. I think that leaves me pretty open in my life, I hope that the choices I make in the near future are right for me so I don't have to be where I am again. 

Grief in Family Death

Last week, my uncle passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. He and I weren't extremely close, but I think when it comes to family that isn't necessary to feel the loss. My mother, her siblings, and especially my grandmother are hurting-and it is always so hard to see family in pain. In pain, comes emotions and ways to channel those emotions that you would never choose if your brain was in its normal place receiving its normal messages. 

I learned over the past weekend that my uncle was extremely special to many, many people. He trained and raced horses, he worked with the school board and he touched many lives. He was a friendly guy with a great sense of humour and he was fiercely loyal to his family and friends.

My grandmother remains to be one of the strongest women I know, in these times of grief-of which she has known many- she remains rock solid. Over the weekend, during a wake and a catholic funeral mass, I was shocked at her ability to remain solid for her other children. She has nine children, 8 who are still alive 2 of whom were unable to be at the funeral, but they were all there with her some how. She is clearly a good mother who had tough choices to make as she raised her kids, tended to her home and cared for her (now passed) husband. My mother and her siblings are some of the toughest people I know. Every day I feel lucky to be a part of a family with such a powerful and respected matriarch model. I respect that part of family; we are all very diverse and while we all have very different belief systems, we all tend to get to the same end place-and I respect that.

Grief in The World

In the wake of yet another senseless tragedy in the United States, I feel a deep sense of grief. It may be that I am coming off a weekend spent grieving with my family, or months spent grieving my sense of self. But this mass shooting on Orlando, where a gunman opened fire in a nightclub...aimed at gay just...doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand how one person can have so much hate towards a whole group of people who have absolutely nothing to do with him. This person is the lowest of the low. The scum of the earth are those that hate with no reason, and try and validate that hate with religion or some other higher level of knowledge. Hate is hate and it has no place. None.

Dealing With Grief

Grief is one of those things that we all deal with very differently. I don't think two people grieve the same, and that is fine and welcome. I have learned over the past few months that I use humour to feel light in my darkest of times. I make jokes, I try and find the simple humour in everyday sadness. This doesn't work well or sit well with everyone (I apologize to anyone who heard me refer to the basin of holy water in the catholic church as an undersized hot tub and didn't see the humour in that that I did...), it's how I deal. I don't talk about feeling sad or depressed, not because I am trying to bury my feelings or hide them, but because I deal with these things in my own way and talking about them doesn't help me, it hinders me. I, of course, shed tears at times. Sometimes they are the only thing that works when processing feelings of sadness and grief. Even if it's 25 years after being diagnosed with diabetes, or 2 days after a funeral of a loved one. 

I think Washington Irving spoke so eloquently about crying and grief:

""There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love."

I like to keep this quote in mind any time I feel the need to cry a bit. I like to share this with anyone who may be grieving over anything.

We are often told that the reasons why we are grieving are not as substantial as others. In our world of living with diabetes we are often told "at least it's not cancer", at least it wasn't more people murdered, at least the death was quick and painless. I find these things odd, like we are searching for deeper meaning to what has happened, instead of accepting that bad things have happened, and as humans we need to accept that this is a part of life. We create our circles of friends, we engage our circle of family always with the knowledge that at some point that circle with break and reform with a jagged edge where someone else or something else once was. That is life, it doesn't mean it is easy, in fact the breaking and re-mending of that circle is the hardest part of living. Accepting that, and knowing that every single time that circle breaks is extremely hard no matter what the circumstances, makes the grief process easier. 

You don't need an excuse to grieve loss, no matter what. And there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

In grief there is always power gained, because surpassing immediate grief takes strength that you grow and muster during the process.


  1. I read lots of blogs and yours is the best i have read today.

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of June 13, 2016.