On Sorrow, Death, Dying & Depression

featuredgrief

(Photo in the featured slide image used by permission of a Creative Commons License, original here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94446676@N00/4261570321/.)

Death & sorrow,  just the topic you wanted to see on the blog, eh?  Well…feel free to skip it if you want to or must.  I confess that I debated for a long time about posting this. It’s painful, and deeply personal, but that’s not why I debated so much. I’ve posted lots of deeply personal, occasionally painful, things here. No, I debated specifically because of the topic.

Sometimes death seems like the ultimate taboo, as far as “things we’re allowed to talk about.” Nobody wants to admit death even exists, much less talk about it in a “normal” conversation. Mention the word and watch people physically shrink up. They turn away, change the subject, use euphemisms and platitudes. I do too. Death terrifies me. Like, a serious phobia. When I think about what happens after…sometimes I have bona fide anxiety attacks.  But sometimes I think we should talk about it more often. It’s a natural part of life…why shouldn’t we decloak it? Discuss it, parse it out… Maybe it wouldn’t be so scary then, or maybe we’d learn how to deal with it, in terms of our own loved ones.

Or maybe other people already do, and this is just me? Anyway. That is why I decided to post this. Because…guess what. It’s something that happened in my life. It is an important thing that happened. And I am trying to figure how to deal with it, what my own feelings are about it, so I’m doing what I do: writing and thinking, thinking and writing.

(Originally started a couple of weeks ago.)

So I guess my brain isn’t going to let me get on to thinking about the good stuff, like kink and sex and spankings and play, until I get this out. So here goes.

My sister died while I was in NYC.

I’m still processing, trying to figure out how I feel about it. Well, not about her dying, that is sad no matter what my relationship with her was like, but how I feel about…I don’t know. Her. Her being dead.

I never planned to see her again, so her being gone shouldn’t be such a…thing. She’s been gone for me for 20+ years. And we knew this was coming, she has been in the last stages of breast cancer for weeks. But today, trying to do my run and having an utterly horrible experience, I realized it may not be that cut-and-dried. Maybe I wasn’t as ready to say goodbye as I thought.

It hurts, just a bit.

Or a fucking lot. I started crying on my run and couldn’t stop. (What a jackass I must have looked like.) The worst part is I have no one – no one in my family – to share it with. My younger sister never knew her, so while she would listen, she can’t really know what this feels like. I’ve never been close to my oldest sister, and don’t care for her much, so have no desire to talk to her. (But god I know she must be absolutely devastated by this. She was as close in their fucked-up way with her as my younger sister and I are. But…she did some awful things to my nephew at the end, and I haven’t quite forgiven her for that.) My nephew…bless him…he is suffering so deeply already.  I just can’t share this with him. It would be too much. Besides which…trying to explain it all to him, when all he has ever known is her (twisted) version of things…it would be too much. And my mom…I just can’t burden her with this. She thinks I’ve left it all behind, she thinks I am okay, I don’t want to burden her more. Her sorrow, having lost two children now, must be so so deep. At least she has her brother and mother there to help her through her grief. To add mine on top of hers would be unkind.

Besides which…I don’t have the right to burden them with my grief. They loved my sister, they forgave her, for everything, right up to the end. I didn’t. I turned away from her. Yes, it was the right thing to do…but having done so, I have no right to grieve now that she is gone. Or to burden those who did love her with my sorrow.

I just feel so alone.

But Ad is right. “Write,” he said.  Writing has helped.

****************************************************

That was…3 weeks ago? I was numb, and then, for two days, I cried. I cried on Ad’s shoulder, and W’s. I cried at work. I cried as I slept. I didn’t know why I was crying for awhile, then I realized that just because I had never planned to see her again, that didn’t mean that part of me didn’t hope that someday…she would be well again. I’m not talking about the cancer. I’m talking about the mental illness that caused her to destroy every relationship she had ever been in. To destroy the people she loved, to see conspiracies and deceptions and plots all around her when there were none.

I cried for the big sister I looked up to, and for the little sister who saw the sister she adored turn into someone she was afraid of – physically and emotionally. And I cried because I knew that no matter that I never wanted to see her again, now I never will. Ever. The end. Period.

Someone else that I knew died the same weekend my sister did. A young woman in our local community took her own life. I didn’t know her well, but as I was gardening yesterday, and felt the sun on my shoulders and smelled the earth coming alive, I thought of her. I thought of her choosing, for whatever reason, to end her life. And how she will never experience the simple pleasure of feeling the sun on her face, or seeing the first blooms of spring, or hearing the geese coming back from their winter grounds. Perhaps these things had stopped giving her pleasure, or never had.

I attempted suicide once. I felt that I just couldn’t bear the sorrow and burden of life. In one of my favorite blogs, Hyperbole and a Half – her first post in a very long time from this writer, because she has been mired in a deep depression – she wrote about her depression, and I recognized what she was saying, I recognized those feelings, I knew exactly what she meant when she said, “I don’t want to kill myself, I just want to find a way to be dead.” I had said almost exactly that to a nurse in the emergency room where they pumped the sleeping pills out of my stomach more than twenty years ago: “I just don’t want to be any more.” And I meant it.

I am so very, very glad I didn’t mean it enough to actually kill myself though. I am so very glad that I am here, able to enjoy these small pleasures. And so very, very sad that the young woman and my sister are not. Because that is also why I was crying: because even though my sister may not have been in my life, she was in her own, and I am very certain she did not want to leave it.

How unfair that she didn’t get to make that choice.

Comments

  1. katherine

    Thank you for being brave enough to write of your grief, and thank you for writing so eloquently about it. Families are really strange and wonderful things that bind us together in painful and joyous ways. Your penultimate line is really touching and gets to the heart of human compassion and empathy, without these, we could not write, experience nor begin to comprehend our lives in this world which we share with others. Your grief is therefore just as rightful and real as anyone elses. These feelings are also what brings a complete stranger to want to give you a hug. humbly katherine *hug*

    Reply
    1. Jade Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Katherine, and for taking the time to write and send them. It means more than you know, to feel that kindness and compassion from a “complete stranger.” It is small things like this that bless my world and lift my heart.

      Reply
  2. Rhys

    It’s good to know that we can help you heal, here’s a hug from me and another one on behalf of the many other readers who slipped by without putting fingers to keyboard.

    No telling whether this will work for you but I’ve learned to deal with death by using it as a reason to celebrate the life that was. Your sister had a turbulent life but I’m sure there were reasons to remember her with fondness.

    As tragic as her death is, if she hadn’t lived at all you would have been much more bereft.

    Reply
  3. Cammies on the floor

    I disagree when you say: “I have no right to grieve now that she is gone”. She was your sister, and even though you decided to not pursue being close with her, doesn’t take away that relationship that was forged in early times. If you give yourself permission to grieve, then you might begin to find more closure.

    You are right, it is very sad that she isn’t living her own life.

    What I find so eloquent is how you described the sun shining on your face and the earth coming alive. Such poetry and beauty you described in taking pleasure in the simplest moment. Just hearing the positives about this world from you is very reaffirming for myself, as sometimes I get “caught up” and need to breathe and enjoy.

    Reply
  4. Curvaceous Dee

    I am really sorry to read about your sister’s dying, and for your loss. Your grief, no matter how you are feeling it, is absolutely valid – it doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you have had, it was still a relationship.

    Thinking of you as you work it all out. *hugs*

    Dee

    Reply
  5. scott Kelly

    Hello Jade,

    I will turn 65 in a week. As we age and mark the passing of people who have been a part of our lives our own mortality is brought more into focus and challenges our assumption about life.

    In midlife, I had to face a series of traumas that caused me to consider taking my own life. The idea of it was there but not the conviction that that course would change anything. I was despondent and saw no hope for the balance of my life though. I was angry at my family and felt that they had betrayed me. In retrospect I understand that I saw them through the distorted glass of my own point of view and confusion.

    In spite of all the gloom, bottoming out cleared the way for new growth and a more meaningful, fulfilling life. For me, the best was yet to come but I had no way of seeing that.

    Hope you are feeling better. We are a part of a great process, not separate from it. Acceptance, curiosity, and empathy for those around us are our share of consciousness.

    Best,

    scott
    Mrs. Kelly’s Playhouse

    Reply

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