Excelling at Grief

Posted by Danny

In first grade at my kids’ school, the children draw a picture of their family.  It’s a school  fundraiser.  You can get the pic put on a magnet, coffee mug, or an apron.  I think for $20 you can have it tatooed on your thigh.  The options are limitless.

Our tradition is to get the art on a notecard and then frame it.  We hung all three girls’ family pictures in our bathroom – over the toilet.

Last February when Lisa died, I would examine the drawings every time I stood in front of the toilet.  And for me, that was often.

I especially looked at the renderings of Lisa.  When I saw our family, standing there so innocent and happy, the gaping hole that was left was keenly apparent.  It was as if when I saw the scene someone had taken white-out to my wife.  I could see such a huge void between me and the girls. 

I wondered on many occasions how long it would be before I could pee without the emotional pain of looking at those pictures.  I wondered when I would go to the bathroom and not become focused on the three Lisa’s surrounding me.  Would I be able to look at those pictures and not be flung into my deep place of sadness?

This afternoon I went to the bathroom and as I was finishing up, I glanced at the pictures.  A smile came to my face.  I realized that at some point, I’m not exactly sure when, I began to enter my bathroom without being focused on our loss.  I looked at our family, zeroed in on Lisa, and thought of the woman I loved, not the one I missed.

It was a good moment.

But grief is strange.  My victory in the bathroom seemed to be overshadowed by a three mile run down Ridge Road.  I sobbed so hard that a lady walking her dog crossed the street to avoid the weird-o heading toward her.  I  think the grief hit because I didn’t cry in the bathroom.  Perhaps it was guilt that I could look at her and not always feel sad.  Perhaps it was the realization that I no longer expect her to be laying beside me in the bed at night.  Or maybe I just missed her as I do at some point in every day.

I’m so good at grief, I can find it even in the healing!  At least I excel at something.

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  1. Annette Heath

     /  March 16, 2011

    I read these words and kept them near after I lost my Mother. I am an only child and my pain seemed endless for the first two or more years. It is better now and I can remember her with smiles and fewer tears.

    “Grief seems to pool in some resevoir of the heart, and while you may wish to drive some distance away from it, to a more genteel address, that doesn’t mean this rereservoir ever empties while it awaits your next visit.”

    I still make those “visits”, though they are much less often. I just KNOW she is watching over me, always. Lisa is watching over her family, always.

    The very best always to you Danny, and your precious daughters. Annette

  2. You are excelling at parenting, dress picking, and blogging too! I can’t imagine how I would grieve in your situation, but it sounds like you are doing the very best you can to heal. A little bit everyday.

  3. Aunt Susan

     /  March 16, 2011

    Danny, you have come so much farther than you think or realize. I remember that when my daddy died my Dr. said ” it will take some time, and at those unexpected times, you just burst into tears.” That’s just what grief is all about. But someday you’ll remember the good times, the funny times, and then you’ll notice you don’t hurt quite so much.

    You and “Jesse” have done such a wonderful job, I agree with the end of his last post, you have some very strong and funny kids. The world will be a better place because of what you two, and Lisa have given them.

  4. Steve Gill

     /  March 17, 2011

    We are learning so much from you about life. Thank you.


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