Is There A Time Limit On Grieving The Loss Of Your Health?

https://themighty.com/2016/12/grief-timeline-getting-sick/

I think it’s safe to say no on this one. There’s no time limit. It can remain a shock to the system for quite some time.

I tried really hard to have a good day today, but towards the end I couldn’t walk properly and I was struggling with my vision and breathing. I couldn’t think. I came home and looked in the mirror for some visible sign that I was well and truly “done for”, but came away dejected because I see what everyone else sees; someone who visibly looks healthy. It’s really frustrating. 😦

My Brother Is Missing

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I called the police this morning to report my brother missing. I have been freaked out, in a terrible panic, since Friday morning. I cannot sleep, I’m having trouble functioning on all cylinders, and I’m concerned because it’s clear that no one gives a fuck but me.

Apparently to the cops, my reporting him missing means he is either A) a drug addict, B) an alcoholic, or C) Mad at me and avoiding me. No assholes, it’s D) None of the fucking above.

The last message I have from my brother is that he loved me, and would call or e-mail me later on in the day. At 3:46 a.m. on Friday; I’ve heard not a word since then. I’ve probably sent him 50 messages, if not more. He might ignore three or four, but there’s no way he’d go days without answering me or contacting me unless something horrible happened.

I suppose if you’re not close to a sibling, that might not bother you, but I am my brother’s rock. I’ve called every hospital I can think of, he’s not in any of them. The officer assisting me (and I’m going to use that term loosely for now) informed me that due to his health, he may have been moved to a hospital that will not admit to having him due to HIPAA violations. He said he could go down there, but that not only won’t they admit if they have him or not to the police, even if they had a warrant, but they also have the right to keep people there for anywhere from 5-120 days, by law. That only made it worse for me, hearing those words. I am his emergency contact, I feel it is my right to know where the hell he is if you’re holding him for ANY fucking reason.

My brother is not a danger to others or himself. He’s much more apt to help a person than he is to harm them. He’s a caring soul, despite all the harm that he has been subjected to. I am praying to all that is Holy that I do hear from him soon. I cannot track him via his phone or social media (though I did post to his Facebook wall that he’s missing; in case a friend comes across it and knows where he is.). I called the last friend I know he’d been in touch with, but I don’t have contact info for many others. I will keep calling this friend until I find out whether or not he has seen him, because I know for a fact they spoke Thursday.

I won’t lie; I’m afraid I will soon be writing a eulogy. Or worse. that he will never be found.

If I find out that someone has hurt him, I solemnly swear to hunt them down like a lion hunts a wildebeest and tear their organs out slowly.

I am trying to be strong here, but sometimes even the strong have a breaking point.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

As Real As It Gets

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WARNING: Potential Triggers

I’m a ridiculously intuitive person, which has the tendency of scaring people if they aren’t used to it. I live my life paying attention to the same things most people ignore. However, it is virtually impossible to ignore your body and mind when they’re screaming at you. No matter what bad thing it is that you may be going through, it is sometimes important to take a step back, allow yourself to feel what you feel, without apologies, and regroup tomorrow.

For the majority of my life, my purpose wasn’t clear. I don’t know if I ever considered the purpose for my existence. I had so many responsibilities, and I openly admit that I took them on myself. When most people would have been taking care of themselves for their “most selfish years”, I was taking care of two sick parents. I was dealing with burying friends and loved ones, and so it took until maybe this last year for me to say “Enough!” and begin focusing on myself. I now know that it’s not selfish to be focusing on myself at this point in my life, it’s survival.

I’ve been through some awful things, a lot of which I try not to focus on. There’s a saying about not looking back or you’ll only manage to hurt your neck. In many respects, that is true. I gain nothing from reflecting on pain, but I do gain something for having survived all of it. I know that I can get through the horrible, never-ending cycle of suffering, I know I can come out the other end a far better person than I was today, but it’s not a choice one ever wants to make. It’s “kill or be killed”, so you have to regroup and “kill”, even if only metaphorically.

In times like this, a lot of people turn to religion. I am not hardcore religious, but I am spiritual. I pray several times a day for the peace and the concept that someone Higher is listening to me. That someone Higher cares. Through trial and error, I have found that most people care about themselves, and they have no room in their mind or heart for anything or anyone else. I’ll never understand it. The average person cares about five people, or less. Are we such a selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered society that we take no time at all to care about the person next to us? I often hear myself say that if a situation does not directly affect me and/or those I love/care about, then I cannot put forth the emotion to worry about it. The point though is that I actually love and care about other people. I’ve spent a long time placing others before me, and I still do it at times, but ultimately I don’t have my head up my ass. I find it easy to be emotionally present for others, and a lot less easy to be emotionally present for myself.

I’m sick of my internal dialogue because it’s so abusive. It’s something I call “self-abuse”. You’re cutting yourself apart as if you were actually cutting, but there’s no blood, the wound is entirely internal and it grows daily. You wouldn’t even feel it if someone dipped you into the Dead Sea, because you’re already a walking wound of agony.

I can point out positive things in other people, but when it comes to doing the same for myself I usually say “I’m loyal.” and when asked how I’m feeling I often say “I exist.” I will never lie and say “I’m fine.”, because then I’d be lying to myself. I’m not fine. I’ve never been less “fine”, but because I’ve been through so many “not fine”, “not okay” times, I would rather not pick at the scabs, so to speak. How much negativity does one need to focus on before they become batshit crazy and hurt someone, or themselves?

I will never lie about often feeling suicidal. Never. I will never pretend that darkness doesn’t coat aspects of my life so thickly that it’s hard to see the light. I will never say it is a topic that is “off-limits” or “taboo” because the fact of the matter is, not everyone acts on their thoughts, but those that do aren’t weak. It takes an immense amount of strength to say “I’ve had enough pain.”

Many people advocate for “assisted suicide” for terminally ill patients, but what do we advocate for when a person cannot be healed in any way, shape, or form, through no fault of their own? Do we pretend the issue doesn’t exist and go off into our own selfish bubble? Do we say “That’s not my problem?” Do we walk away? Do we ignore it?

So many people have been unable to see the signs in a loved one and have later been devastated that they chose to end their own life. Instead of thinking about how much pain THEY had to be in to go there, to reach that point, all I ever hear is “How could s/he do this to me?”, “How could they leave me behind?”, “Why didn’t s/he tell me?” Bringer of honesty: It’s NOT about you. 

It amazes me how people don’t look closely at situations or loved ones. It blows my mind how people choose to see the surface, and nothing more. It behooves me how few people ever say “I’m here for you, no matter what. And I will NOT judge.” Once a person commits suicide, people can lie ’til the cows come home, but they are absolutely judging. If you’re unaffected by the deeply personal pain of others, you aren’t human.

It is important to check in with those we love. It is important, and crucial, to look deeper. There will still be times when you will not see what a person chooses not to show, but there will also be times when a hug, a hand to hold, a kind word, a moment of inspiration, a thoughtful phone call, or card will pull a person back and show them that they mean something, that their life has value and purpose.

This will be painful for some people to read because they choose to avoid brutal truth. This may be painful for suicide survivors who are still left asking themselves “Why?” As a person who thinks about it deeply, I have very few reasons for not acting on my feelings. Those reasons become less important each day.

I am touched by the people who genuinely reach out to me in love or friendship. I am touched by the people whose actions say “I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.” But those moments, and people, are few and far between.

One day I may not be able to rely solely on my self-talk to pull me back. And the excuses you might very well hear in the wake of that will be: “I work 60+ hours a week, I have no time to talk.”, “I never returned her phone call. I feel TERRIBLE.”, “I didn’t answer her text message.”, “I stopped speaking to her because she was too honest.”, “She was so young, smart, creative, and beautiful…I don’t understand. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

No one will say “She was in so much pain, she couldn’t take it anymore and I understand.” No one. And that is truly fucking sad.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Grief Is

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Grief is like a snowflake? If you want to be poetic about it, okay. If you want to be honest about it, which I am going to be, grief is a demonic fucker that sneaks up on you when you least expect it.

I buried my father seven years ago today. The morning of the funeral I was up until nearly 2:00 a.m. finishing the eulogy. I have no idea how I functioned that day because eight hours later I was heading back home, back to the funeral home where I’ve had to bury almost every key person in my life. I stood up in front of family and friends and brought the house down. The rabbi went up after me, saying “She’s a tough act to follow.” My father’s co-workers came up to me afterward, blown away by what I had written and how I speak in public. A few of them had known him for 40+ years, others nowhere near as long, but they all came, right before Christmas, and paid their respects. I can say a LOT about that because it’s a level of respect that I respect and appreciate. It’s something I will never forget. My father’s own family (all but a few did not live locally), never bothered to show up at the funeral, call, or send so much as a card. I damn near kicked a headstone over this disrespect at the neighboring cemetery where, in four inch heels, I flipped out at my Uncle’s grave and told him he should be ashamed of his family. The tone of voice I was using was enough to probably break bone. If any of them ever need an exact match for tissue or organ donation, I would have to seriously re-think my views on “family” because I don’t tolerate disrespect. There are moments in life when you truly see everyone for who and what they truly are. Sometimes it’s heartening, and other times it makes you murderous.

I’ve been sitting here for the last few hours wondering why I feel so terrible. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. I’ve wondered if I was coming down with a cold, and a plethora of other issues. While it is entirely possible that I have a cold in my system, the truth just hit me: I’m upset and when I realized the date, I changed my plans for the day. I don’t want to have a nervous breakdown in public. I will make sure the two places I need to go are open tomorrow and go then, because it’s not an emergency, but it does need to get done before everything shuts down on Christmas Eve, which I totally understand and respect. I think the only thing that will be open Christmas Day is Walmart (Every year I call them to check, expecting a different answer. Every year they tell me “We never close.”) and the movie theater, and probably a Chinese restaurant or two. I’m cooking, so I want fresh ingredients because I am on some insane mission to get through the rest of this year without going ballistic or tearing someone apart. I’m not certain the latter won’t happen. There is a LOT I can accomplish in eight days.

Today, it’s okay to have a mini-meltdown in the privacy of my own home. It’s okay to be upset and angry, and to feel abandoned.

I thought I’d reached the stage of acceptance. Maybe I have, but that doesn’t mean loss is not upsetting to me. When you lose your parents young, the way you view life is very different than it is if you lose your parents at a more appropriate age, like 90. We all live hoping to make it past retirement age, but the truth is, even though many of us say that a specific age is “too old”, we still want to live into the future. Our desire to survive is still present. A family friend once said “I’m never retiring. I’ll still work when I’m 100, so long as I can do so.” He’s a good person, a hard worker, and I pray he makes it to 100 and can see his grand-daughters grow up, maybe even become a great-Grandfather and be able to enjoy that too.

My father never got to see any of those things. I don’t know that he would have truly been interested to do so, but still, it hurts. I do not hurt solely for myself. I hurt for my brother, who really needs a parental figure in his life right now. My father was everything to him. He is not as strong as I am and I spend a lot of time worrying about him because he & I are so different. It’s hard to believe we’re brother and sister, unless it comes down to our sense of humor, passion for things that are important to us, and small things that brand you as “siblings” to others, even if you don’t look alike.

Losing a family member is never easy. Losing one during the holidays is very hard. Having to re-live it year after year is a choice. I tried working through it, but sometimes it creeps up out of nowhere and slaps me across the face. I remember it happening last year too. I did so well on the anniversary of his death, but today, I just have to let myself cry and grieve. Odd as it sounds, tomorrow will come with an entirely different set of emotions.

As the great Billy Crystal has often said “Grieving is a process.”

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.