Working Through the Process of Grief

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Chuck Messer
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Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Chuck Messer » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:01 am

I thought I'd take this over here. Too much sturm und drang in the Pavillion, and I don't want to add to it.

Just had a good cry. I mean, hunched over sobbing, etc. Part of the problem has been trying to be everyone's tower of strength. Another is my allergies are on the rampage. What that means is I end up coughing so hard I almost throw up.

It's as if my stomach is saying, "I noticed the whole body is heaving and I'm not. Do you need me to puke?"

"No. I don't need to puke."

"I just feel I'm not contributing here. Maybe you need to barf."

"No. I don't need to puke, barf, hurl, spew or blow chunks. I'm fine with sobbing drowning in phlegm and coughing my lungs out.Thank you."

I finally got my stomach settled down. I'm just glad it's so quiet out here. I'm afraid any coworkers would call an ambulance. If there were any out here. Coyotes have been quiet lately. All I hear is the air horn of a train.

What a crappy year.

Chuck
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RocRizzo
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby RocRizzo » Fri Dec 24, 2010 8:10 am

Chuck,
Believe me when I say that I can empathize with your pain. I lost both parents and a brother within 3 years. It was simply horrible. Just when I thought things were okay, and I could get back to "normal," whatever that is, another one died. The first one was my brother, who died from complications from AIDS, back in the beginning of the pandemic. It was my job to calm down the whole family, as the rest of them were in pieces, and someone had to do it, damnit, and as the eldest of what was four kids, I took on the responsibility. It was awful.

If you remember, back in the beginning of this thing, our puppet of a president had declared AIDS a "gay cancer" and refused to comply with any requests for research funding. My father, who believed every word that the puppet said, stated that he would not go to his son's funeral. My mother was a wreck, as was my sister. My other brother was not in too good shape, coming home for the funeral from the Navy. I practically had to wrestle my father into the car, to go to the funeral home. I had to console my mom, and sister, and take care of my brother, who was suffering from jet lag, and some sort of cold or something. It was a five day affair, and I didn't have any time to grieve for my brother, fourteen months my younger, until I drove back to the Hudson Valley.

On the Thruway, I burst into tears, and had to pull over. A trooper stopped along side, and asked me what was wrong. I proceeded to explain to him, and he stated that I should move along. I requested five minutes. FIVE MINUTES. He allowed my request, and I pulled it together, and moved along. I got home and went to pieces myself. It had been a grueling experience. One that I did not want to repeat.

That was not to be the fate. About a year later, my dad died, and a year after that, mom. Each time, I was the one who had to have the strength to not get emotional, and keep everyone together, keep the schedule, greet relatives, and well-wishers, make sure that meals were there, and all the other stuff. Every time, I had little time to myself to grieve, until I got home, about a hundred miles drive away.

It took a long time after they all were gone, before I was feeling "better." These things take time. Only time will start to heal the wound of losing someone that close to you. You will never completely get over it, but you will always have the memories of the times spent with your loved one. I suppose that it is harder to keep yourself together during the Holidays, but I hope that you can. Perhaps one should know that the end of life is part of that life, and the memories are what lives on.

I don't know what to say, other than that time will heal. Next year will hopefully be a better one for you.
"Understanding is a three-edged sword."

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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Moderator » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:32 am

Roc - Beautifully said.

Chuck - I have not personally gone through the loss of a parent, but did serve as the backbone when both of my in-laws died (two years apart). I sincerely hope you have a partner or other loved one standing at your side.

We were at my mother-in-law's side when she passed away. Listening to the heart monitor slow down was agony, but no one wanted to be anywhere else. My first true understanding of the pain of the loss occurred an hour or so later when, back at my in-laws' house, I heard my father-in-law in the bathroom crying. Then he said her name, and just the absolute pain of that one short word crushed me.

There is no real solace to give to people at a time like this, though we all try our hardest. As Roc notes, all you have is time and the determination to find the other side of the dark tunnel.

I would like to suggest that you feel free to continue to post your feelings here. A therapy, in a way. Express yourself as you might wish, perhaps with your favorite memories or with things which occur to you during the grieving process. Not as a public display, but as an outlet to people who want to be at your side. (As moderator I will ensure that all responses are positive.)

Or not. Your choice.

But rest assured that there are many people -- and I don't mean just here -- who are thinking about you and giving you whatever support we can.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:12 pm

Think of that one really great time with your dad--when you were a kid or recently. Let the reflecting pool keep dredging those good memories.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Lori Koonce » Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:23 am

Chuck

First of all please know that you'll be in my thoughts for the next few days. Loosing someone you love is never an easy thing.

Please take the following for what it is worth. Just be ready for your grief to hit you at places and times when you least expect it. Always allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling. I realize you probably know this all ready, but I would feel like less of a friend if I didn't say it.

Barber probably has my Email address, and you're welcome to it if you need to write me.

(a big warm hug)

Lori

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Chuck Messer
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Chuck Messer » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:31 pm

We had a get-together at Ellie's (my stepmom's) place. Mom couldn't go because she wrecked her knee prior to Christmas. Ellie brought out piles of photos that Dad kept, including ones of his parents, birth certificates and such. Good times in those photos, good times.

Dad didn't want any fuss, no funeral, etc. But we needed this. There's a photo of me and Dad. He's got his arm around my shoulder. There's one of Dad, looks like maybe when he was in his late twenties, early thirties. He looks tired. His expression seems to say, "Did you have to take a picture now?"

Threre's one I printed and framed for Dad when he was in the nursing home. It's me with our St. Bernard, Hannibal. He looks every bit the gentle Baby Huey he was. Dad loved that dog. Hannibal and I were pals. There's a rail fence, trees and the ground was covered with snow. We lived in a town in the foothills called Evergreen at the time. I'd say the picture was taken around 1971. It hope it gave Dad something to remember.

Chuck
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby paul » Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:20 am

Hi Chuck. Forgive me for popping in here a minute, but it's about 3 ayem, and, well, with your permission, wanted to share.

I haven't posted much here in the BB, and not so much in the Pavvy for awhile. Little things here and there, mostly I don't because I just don't have the time to get embroiled in an online debate or reiterate whatever opinion someone may have said that I agree with. I read the Pavvy on a constant basis, so I'm aware of what goes on as much as anyone who reads it. As such, I knew of your dad's health. I haven't read anything on this side or the Annex part since before Christmas, and I just got caught up tonight.

A while back I expressed my wishes, in a broad sense, for the health of all the Webderlanders and their families, knowing that trials and tribulations abound. Just recently, I sent Steve a private note on the loss of Jazz. I saw this here and wanted to give you my profound commiseration of your loss. Words and feelings, being all we have, have to suffice. I'm so sorry, man.

The reason this comes to the forefront now is that my mother-in-law, Patricia Aldrighetti, died on January tenth, and we're just now getting settled back into our lives here in Austin. My wife Kathy is as you would expect. Every song on the sentiment jukebox being played 24/7. An emotional cyclone waxing and waning.

I'm not writing this impinge on your personal grief, nor do I need to expect any return of sympathies, that's not why I started this. She was a much loved and cherished woman, and as you know, it's hard as hell to start getting yourself together after a death. She wasn't my mother, but as close as you get. As I say, we're just now getting our guff together; today was Kat's first day back to work, I went back to work this week after being off all week-last, Kat's driving 200 miles (one-way) back-and-forth to her mom's hometown getting all the... business that needs to be done, done. Not for a second would I want to compromise your place here, but other than some words at her rosary, this is the first thing I've written about this since it happened. I'm still not sure what compelled it. I was thinking of saying something on the Pavvy, but it just seemed... out of place. Pitiful. I don't know.

I just wanted to say how sorry I am, and to give a wee thank you for the use of this space, and for helping these words come now as I type, that I didn't even know were there or wanted to be said.

I wish a speedy recovery for your mom's knee. I also look forward to any recollections and times you'd care to share. As I said at Pat's funeral, "Sorry if I talk too much, but no one should be sent to the ground with too few words." Thanks for helping me, Chuck.

Solace and courage, brother,
Paul Hull
The medium is the message.

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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Moderator » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:06 pm

Paul, Chuck -- What a shitty couple of months.

Chuck - Like Paul, I hope things are progressing for you and your family. As I noted above I have not yet suffered the loss of my own parents, but am more than familiar with death of a loved one (not just my dogs, but both my in-laws and my godfather.) You have been in my thoughts lately, particularly when you saw fit to comment supportively on my own relatively minor loss compared to your own. Mark of a gentleman.

Paul -- I know this is a difficult time for you. All you want to do is make the pain go away for your wife, and you can't. It hurts so bad for you too, and yet you really can't indulge your own grief. I hope you have friends, or your own family members, you can turn to for support. Focus on your wife and her family, help them through, and this in turn helps you. Mark Goldberg lost his own mother relatively recently, and Chuck's loss. It's an awful, but tight, community and we're all here to lend a hand when necessary. (I credit this to the sort of person Harlan attracts. He's as stalwart as they come, so it stands to reason that his friends are as well.)

I was fortunate to have grown quite fond of and accepted by my in-laws. Both were wonderful people, though at first my father-in-law wasn't sure I was the right husband for his youngest daughter. Time and circumstances turned that around so that by the time he died we were fast friends as well as family. Not a day goes by -- a decade later -- that Cris doesn't think of them both. The only reassurance I can give either of you is that the memories are not lost, and the best ones are the ones you recall most easily.

Y'all know my email or phone # should you need a shoulder.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby FrankChurch » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:56 pm

We have all had losses this last year but it does show us how precious life is.

I may be a believer but I still fear the dark.

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Chuck Messer
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Chuck Messer » Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:35 am

To all,

Thanks for the thoughts, and if anyone wants to chime in with their own grief-working-out-process-thing (like Paul) this is the thread to do it.

I've been to my sister's where we divvied up some of the photos and memorabilia that Dad kept, including a lot of stuff from my Grandfather. I've got grandpa's badge from when he was New Mexico state trooper (Mounted Patrol) badge #4-13. I've also got a photo of Grandpa in his uniform. He looked kind of like Don Ameche at that time. Pictures of my Aunt Virginia, one of my favorite human beings, stolen from me by cancer in 1982.

There are photos of Dad when he was a college graduate, and when he was in the high school football team -- he admitted he wasn't a particularly good player. My Grandmother, back when she had dark brunette hair.

There's still a lot of stuff, including school records and report cards for my dad, Uncle Jim and Aunt Virginia. She was Salutatorian when she graduated from high school. She worked hard to measure up to Dad, who was Valedictorian.

It's not easy, letting go, saying goodbye. Maybe this is a good place to tell about doing it.

Chuck
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:20 am

I fear the dark less than having to stay here without certain people who will have to go before me.

My folks are aging. They're aging well, but they're aging. I wouldn't know how to live without them, they've always been there. I've never had to really be alone or face anything alone... I don't know how I'll handle it. It's tough to explain. I've got no family of my own, no wife, no kids, only the vague begginings of a career - no other centres of gravity to shift the focus to. It's not something I like to think about, but it's not something I can hide from forever.

Chuck and Paul, you've got all the thoughts prayers and vibes and can muster, for what they're worth.

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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Moderator » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:25 am

Beautiful post, Chuck. I particularly appreciate the little glimpses of people who we've lost that I see peppered through the posts above. Very fitting toast to them. A little glimpse into people we would otherwise never have encountered.

Thanks.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Lori Koonce » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:00 pm

OK here it goes...

I spent five years attached to a drunk who would rather solve our problems with his fists than with anything remotely resembling a conversation. He had the courtesy to save me a shit load of money by dying instead of me having to find a divorce lawyer. It's kinda amazing what heavy drinking will do to your body if ya keep it up for over 40 years.

That's really not the point though. I can't remember exactly when he died, but I do remember not feeling too badly about it. And for the longest time that struck me as rather strange. I mean one is supposed to grieve for the loss of a loved one no matter how rotten the relationship was; right?

Well, I may be glad he's gone, but every once in a very blue moon, I miss him. When things were good, they were so very good. A clean house, good food on the table and wonderful companionship. There are a few places here in the City that I can't pass by without feeling a twinge of regret that he's not here to share them with me. He'd be proud of all the weight I've lost and the changes I've made in the intervening years. He'd have liked Vance, my best friend, and maybe my parents could have grown to like him too.

But, that's all way in the past now. I do have to admit that it has made finding someone to take his place a really bitch of an experience, but I'm sure this too will pass with time. I'm sorry to have dumped this on you all, but reading through the posts here have had me thinking about this for a few weeks now, and it's nice to know that there is a place to do this.

Thanks a lot gang!!

Lori

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FrankChurch
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:48 pm

I'm sorry Lori, but no man should ever put their hands on a woman, period! If he loved you he would have not done that. It makes sense that you have residual feelings, but that stuff cannot be tolerated.

Woman shouldn't beat up men either, except during football season.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Working Through the Process of Grief

Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:02 pm

Steve Evil wrote:I fear the dark less than having to stay here without certain people who will have to go before me.

My folks are aging. They're aging well, but they're aging. I wouldn't know how to live without them, they've always been there. I've never had to really be alone or face anything alone... I don't know how I'll handle it. It's tough to explain. I've got no family of my own, no wife, no kids, only the vague begginings of a career - no other centres of gravity to shift the focus to. It's not something I like to think about, but it's not something I can hide from forever.


Yeah. My folks are in their eighties and while they have been in relatively good health over the years ( hearing aids, arthritis, replacement knees) they are aging. I know someday I'm going to get one of those phone calls. How do you prepare yourself for that? Maybe you don't. Maybe you just have to take things as they come. It helps to have friends. I've been kind of a hermit the last couple of years and one of my new years' resolutions is to reach out more.

Like the man said, the love you take is equal to the love you make...
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


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