I Bought The Books

It’s a Sunday evening in my dorm room, and my roommate just left to go out. She kissed me on the head and asked if I was okay before she left. All I could do to not burst out in tears was nod my head in response and stare at my computer screen. She could see the look in my eyes that things weren’t alright. Once that door shut the tears poured out.

I have these moments, as I am sure many people who have experienced death do. Sometimes they are triggered by a date or an event and sometimes they pop up out of nowhere. This moment was the result of a passing thought of thirteen days until two years. I said that to myself after looking at my calendar and seeing how close I was to the two-year anniversary of my father’s death. In the beginning I always thought that this was supposed to be the magical countdown where everything will suddenly be better after that date had passed. At least that’s what the books always told me. When my father died I spent days in Barnes and Noble reading book after book about grief and how I was supposed to feel. I had experienced death before but not something like the death of a parent and I wanted to know what to expect and how to deal with it. I spent more time reading about grief then actually grieving.

It took some time for me to put down my books and allow my own grief to do its work. But getting there was difficult. Months following my father’s death I acted as if nothing was wrong because I felt like the world moved on without me and I had to keep up. I was afraid of what would happen if I let my guard down and stopped blocking everything out. I felt like I couldn’t afford to cry in the middle of the day at school. With those feelings came the analyzing of my grief, I questioned when the anger stage would show up, or the depression and how to hide it. I spent so much time focused on how I thought I was supposed to feel instead of really letting myself feel. I now know, twenty-three and a half months later that it was the unknown that I was afraid of.  The death of a loved one, such as a parent comes with state of mind that can never be explained on paper, let alone explained at all. And here I was, so afraid of what I didn’t know that I attached my feelings to chapters and referenced my thoughts in the index.

Months ago, if someone had asked me how I felt about how I dealt with my father’s death I would say: terrible, I did it in all the wrong ways. But now, when I look back, I realize that, that was how I grieved.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve; one does what makes them most comfortable at the moment. And I was doing what I knew best, avoiding and staying busy. Grief is such an undefined thing and when one tries to label the “stages of grief” or tell someone that they should be over it by now, they are wrong. Grief if individualized to each person that experiences it. Just like how I experienced it in the beginning, I am experiencing it now with my “moments.”  I am still avoiding it by waiting until I’m in a private place, but I have now begun to let myself feel what I need to feel.  There is a quote from the book The Wild Palms by William Faulkner that I keep close to my heart. It reads, “Between grief and nothing, I will take grief.” Yes, I bought the books because I thought I felt nothing and wanted something else to tell me what to do. But now I know that I was grieving all along, and I still am. March 31st will come and go and I will still grieve my father’s passing in my own way. There is no magic date where it all becomes better, and there are no books that will tell you exactly what to expect. There is a reason things like this don’t come with a handbook. We are meant to learn from and embrace our grief, not look for an easy way out because it’s too hard. We experience it in a way that is necessary and adapted to ourselves; our emotions may throw us a curve ball once and awhile but nothing that we aren’t meant to handle at some point in our lives.

Special thanks to guest author, HelloGrief  community member, and Comfort Zone Camper Samantha Worman for sharing her story with us.

Photo Credit.

11 Comments:

  1. Maggie Nick said on April 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm ... #

    Sam! I am so proud of you and also proud to know you. You are such an eloquent writer and I love how you write about what everyone else is thinking but can’t quite put their finger on. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and perspective with our community. :)

  2. lloyd said on April 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm ... #

    Your observations are very astute, Sam. Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned about grief in the two years since your father died. We can learn so much from you.

  3. lisa said on April 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm ... #

    I did the same thing. Dad passed 9 months ago and felt I need to read everything possible to help. What truly helps is outside time..exercise and writing for me. I’ve written Dad several letters and its helped. Also being where he used to love being. That’s where I feel him the most. Take your time. Grief does not have a timeline nor an end for me. You live with the loss and remember that they are in your heart forever.

  4. Michelle said on April 4, 2012 at 9:53 am ... #

    Thank you for sharing your story with our community, Sam. Your insights capture “a grief journey” well and has me reflecting on my own.

  5. Michelle V. said on April 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm ... #

    – “But now, when I look back, I realize that, that was how I grieved.”

    Sam, this is spot on. Grief is so personal and intimate to each individual, and everyone has a unique way of confronting his/her loss. I think your article captured that perfectly. I hope that you continue to heal and find peace. <3

  6. Jenny said on April 5, 2012 at 9:00 pm ... #

    Sam,
    I love your writing and appreciate you sharing your grief. I am 53 years old and lost my soulmate, Sam, almost 20 months ago. I too have read every book I can get my hands on as well as website. My refrigerator is covered with quotes and the one you referred to by William Faulkner is one…because I would not trade one moment of this pain for the love I had with my Sam. I hope you will keep writing, you have a wonderful gift.

  7. Jessica said on April 8, 2012 at 7:18 pm ... #

    I wholeheartedly agree w/ everything you just said! :) Thanks for sharing!

  8. Lisa King said on June 6, 2012 at 6:47 am ... #

    My dad passed 3 months ago. Im 50 this year, my dad was 72 but a very young 72. He loved his clothes, his cars, and took great care of his appearence. He died 3 and half months from being diognosed with bowel cancer. I am heartbroken!!!! and just dont know how to cope! Thank god i have a brillient husband, but his nit my dad. Please can anyoune suggest a good book? Thank you so much. xxxx

  9. Samantha Worman said on June 12, 2012 at 10:05 am ... #

    Lisa, if you have a Barnes and Noble near you, they do supply good books on Grief. I have one that I bought called “Losing a Parent.” They do help sometimes, but don’t let what a book tells you alter your grief. This website is actually very good sometimes instead of books, there are forums where you can talk to the people who have gone through the same thing and that is very supportive and helpful.

  10. Karla said on June 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm ... #

    What a beautiful article. You are very wise. I also read everything I could find on grief after my son died. Books are great, when you can find the good ones–but what I tell everyone I work with in grief, is exactly what you and I discovered on our own. Grief is individual and “there is no right or wrong way to grieve; one does what makes them most comfortable at the moment.” Also the stages are not gospel–and were never meant to be stages for grieving people–they were stages that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross realized that her dying patients were going through–somehow they got turned into what grieving people go through–and also somehow we got convinced that we are “supposed” to go through them, in a certain way, and if we weren’t then we were somehow grieving wrongly. None of that is true. Grief is a normal and natural process and when someone we love dies, we experience it how we experience it with no time line or stages. It’s a part of life. You really do have a gift, of sharing and writing. I hopw that you will continue to share that. Thanks so much for your wonderful article.

  11. Lynn Hope Thomas said on October 5, 2012 at 3:24 am ... #

    A beautifully written piece on grief. I appreciate the sharing of such intimate emotions.I lost my twin sisters when I was 9 and the buried grief led to me experiencing many problems in my life. I finally encountered a great understanding of what grief really is, forty years later!! despite reading books and trying to self help. I have since written a book to help people who are sufferring from grief, because once its understood, you can love the departed and not feel the anguish of the loss…you don’t have to wait years, as I did….visit http://www.breakingthroughloss.com or facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Breaking-Through-Loss/135631819909610?ref=hl for further information. I suffered repeated loss and grief by burying my emotions and not learning to love what I was being taught, my aim now is to help others. With love and gratitude Lynn

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