May 14, 2012

Listen to Grief. ~ Heather A. Wittman

The Advocacy Project

Share with me your sorrow, your darkest depths of your soul.

I will listen. You have a story to tell, share it with me now and I will listen. At this moment, I see a numbness in your soul and I want to sit with you, hold your hand and listen to your heart. Let’s sit and have a cup of tea, look inside your heart and feel it all, lean into the pain; let it be as it needs to be.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, let it exist, as it wants to be in your heart.

Many will tell you this thing or that, trying to offer up whatever comfort they feel might be useful. Honestly, is it useful to you? Or rather, is it for them, as they don’t want to share this experience, it could be contagious, or require them to look into their own hearts.

People are not inherently mean, they don’t intend any ill will when they tell you its good your departed loved one did not have to suffer, you are so young you will find another, you should be happy you won’t have to worry about anything financially for the rest of your life and on and on.

You want to scream at them and say I am not lucky, I have not been financially taken care of, I am alone, have no career, am afraid, sad, in shock, can barely take a shower, eat, etc.

Yet you sit there, and you comfort them because you have been raised by parents and in a society to be a good girl, to mind your manners.

Yet you wonder deep in the recesses of your mind, what would happen if you got down on the floor and screamed and pounded your fists like your child did when they came to tell you your husband did not make it? You wanted to do just that!

They would have probably locked you up if you had behaved in that fashion, and yet as you sat on the floor next to your child holding him, allowing him the gift of release, you wanted to go next and scream for your loss and all that you knew would be coming.You didn’t behave that way, instead you sprinted alone to the bathroom and were violently ill over and over in the pure silence, a silence so stilling it hurt your ears.

Again, you wanted to run out of there, scream your sorrows, fall onto the floor wailing and pounding on it until someone held you with love and compassion.

They all try to tell you so many things, you don’t even hear them any more, you simply exist on air. Someone puts food on the table in front of you, yet you can barely eat it. You put on your clothes to go to the cemetery for your final good-bye on this cold, blustery November morning and your clothes almost fall to the ground, funny you think when did these get so big?

As they are about to lower the casket and the last of the services is finally over (there have been two services, one where you live, and one where he is from in another state far, far away from where you live) your child throws himself on the casket and cries his eyes out, sobbing for his father and you wish you could do the same. You stand with your hand on his back patiently waiting for him to finish, however, someone whispers in your ear “you simply must get him to stop now”.

You wonder why should he stop. He is like a wounded animal and he needs to release these emotions.

Later, back at the church at the little luncheon the church ladies have put on, you spy him spinning on the floor in dance moves, boldly laughing and acting wild, and again you wish you could join him. You cannot, for what would these good church ladies think of you, the woman who comes from the big city far away, they don’t know what your beliefs are, and you certainly don’t want to give them anything to talk about in this small town where your husband and his family were the pillars of the community.

Your husband was the star of this town, the small town boy made good, who went off and received an Ivy League education, had a successful law practice, three sons and a big life. No, you don’t want them to know that by now you have found out that this wonderful man did not leave an updated will to take care of you and your son, he left it all to his older, college educated, married children who have had no debt or financial responsibilities because he was still taking care of them!

What a demoralizing day that was, to be summoned into his office around the big table in the conference room for everyone to turn over their credit cards only to find you held 2 joint accounts and his older boys each held approximately 7 or 8 joint cards on which he was paying.

You want to scream, it is all a farce, you have no car in your name, no house in your name, nothing and you don’t even know where you might end up living with this young boy who is allowing his feelings to flow so freely.

Not you, you are not allowed to display these emotions.

You thank everyone for all they have done, you put on a smile, try to look nice in this small town, and behave like a lady. You are so tired, you want to crawl into bed and never get up again. In fact, you are doubly tired since you have recently recovered from having a craniotomy to remove a brain tumor.

You wonder how can this be your life? You must, however, you have a child to care for and so you do just that and hold your head up high even though all you want to do is get down on the floor, kick and scream and pound your fists.

Heather is a survivor! She graduated with a degree in Art History and ended up working as a paralegal and most importantly, as a mom. These days with her prodigy off to college, she has found her voice once again and is blog writing, developing a yoga practice, a running practice (and will be trying to better her time from last year in the upcoming Boulder Boulder). She is a work in progress, studying Buddhism and everything healing. She will be celebrating this Mother’s Day as the 10-year anniversary of her surgery to remove a meningioma brain tumor and is looking forward to what she can accomplish in the next ten years! To quote Edwin Louis Cole “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.”


Editor: Carolyn Gilligan


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