“I miss the tears, I miss the laughter
I miss the day we met and all that followed after
Sometimes I wish I could always be with you
The way we used to do
Now and forever, I will always think of you
Now and forever, I will always be with you” ~ Carole King (Now and Forever) ❤
I wrote this post last night and then I was too exhausted to post it! Lol WordPress app, while I’m incredibly thankful for it, is not the easiest to deal with.
Last night I fell asleep with and this morning woke up with a heavy, heavy heart. As I mentioned on here a couple months ago, my coworker and beautiful friend, Diane, died suddenly and so unexpectedly. She was my coworker and I never hung out with her outside of work but in the nearly ten years I have known her, I really only thought of her as my friend, nothing less.
She’s the one I wrote about in a couple posts before. She has sons similar ages to me and I always loved how she would brag about me as if I were her daughter.
You know how there are “flare ups” of grief? Grief never goes away or completely heals but for many people, it’s not always how it was when the loss first occurred. The rawness or worst of it takes the backburner, for lack of a better way of saying it, and eventually is generally no longer the main or only thing on the mind even when we think of those we have lost. Other, happier, thoughts and emotions begin to prevail again and the grief and heartache remain but are easier to cope with in general. But sometimes that horrible grief returns and sometimes even feels worse than at first. It appears and reappears as long as we live.
Ever since I met Diane years ago, this is the longest I have ever gone without seeing her and talking to her. Two months. For no specific reason, the last two days my grief has been flaring up. Grief over a loss is not bad or wrong, it’s what occurs, in some cultures, when we lose something or someone we know or love. I heard that in some cultures they don’t grieve how we do here in US and other cultures. When they lose someone to death, no matter how tragic the incident, they just celebrate that person’s life and feel love and not devastation or pain. They are brought up that way. It’s hard for me to grasp that concept but I find it intriguing. But here, we do grieve hard when we experience a loss. It’s not a choice, it just occurs when we experience a loss. It’s considered healthy, expected, normal. I don’t want my grief to ever leave me, I just wish it were easier to cope with when it’s like this.
I often wish I can take away people’s pain and suffering even if it means I would have to take on that pain and feel it instead. But I never would take away someone’s grief even if I could, even when it’s very devastating. Because, at least in our culture, we’re supposed to experience it in our own way. It shows that we are touched by the person/animal (I’m just as devastated when animals die but I expect them to die sooner since they usually do not live as long as humans and to me seem generally more fragile) who left us. But I would help someone bear the grief if I could or take on a portion of it if the person wanted me to. Anyway, that can’t happen.
Today as I was on a bus going to my therapy appointment, I was grieving hard but out of the blue, I was struck even harder. My whole body felt so fragile and so breakable and one of the worst, deepest, kinds of pain I ever felt just took me over.
Some aspects felt violent. It was emotional pain but the whole experience felt so physical. And it was very strange. It almost felt unbearable like my tmjd cluster-like headaches, which are the worst pain I ever felt. It throbbed throughout my whole existence feeling like it runs deeper than body and “mind.”
I felt like collapsing onto the floor, screaming her name over and over, and curling up into a fetal position, and writhing in agony like when I have the headaches.
I felt horror and disbelief, heartache and pain and I kept thinking how does anyone ever possibly handle the loss of a friend, family member, pet, is it even possible to handle something like this…I felt something close to panic.
Like a trapped or “claustrophobic” feeling. Death is so permanent. The loss felt inconceivable. So bizarre. So incredible (and not in a good way) that someone, someone with experiences and thoughts and emotions, memories, and a breath, a whole life, can be gone in an instant. Just like that. Never ever to be seen or heard again.
All those experiences, those memories, that whole life just vanishes into thin air.
Just like that.
In an instant.
It did not last long at all, this experience on the bus. And it wasn’t all bad. It was deep and brought me closer to myself.
I have experienced grief and loss before so it’s not completely new but it’s not something someone ever really gets used to. No matter who dies on us, another death is still so new and difficult. No matter how many we have lost before, the next one can still feel impossible to bear.
I still can’t believe that Diane is really gone. It feels wrong and unnatural even though I know it’s not. It feels confusing that one moment someone can be standing somewhere not sick at all, nothing at all wrong with the person, then literally one second later be dead of a heart attack. It is so scary. It doesn’t really make sense to me but I know it does make sense. It’s just part of living. It happens every single day. Heart attacks just come out of nowhere and destroy and end people’s lives. But it hurts desperately.
My worst pain is knowing that Diane can never experience again, not happiness, joy, or love. My worst pain is for her. Not for me. Or even the others who miss her and knew her better than I did.
Living people can find a sense of healing and happiness again even after tragedies and devastation but the poor victims never get that chance. People say they don’t know they’re dead and don’t know they are missing out on life and lots of good things, and so cannot feel to suffer but that’s exactly my point, they can’t feel anymore and it’s heartbreaking to know that.
So my worst sorrow is for the dead, not the living.
Life is hope.
But I also have another kind of pain, a selfish kind. I miss her and wish I could see her. And I know her family and friends do too. I see things every single day that remind me of her and it’s both comforting and painful. I think of her every single day. Never a day goes by when I don’t think of her. And I always will as long as I live. I knew her well. I suspect that as the days go on it will become more comforting than painful to see/hear things I know she loved or would love. But now the grief and pain is so raw. Raw grief occasionally does come flooding back for many of us whether it’s a year later or twenty years or more. It just comes and goes, appears and reappears. And it’s ok.
As the saying goes “grief is the price we pay for love.”
(this is the only picture I got of my day yesterday before my phone battery gave out on me – those little flower petals were everywhere, blowing in the wind all around me)
When I was eleven years old I was at a party with my family in a very big house with a very big pool and like a hundred people around outside in the gargantuan backyard. When no one was looking, I slipped and fell into the pool at the 12 ft. Side. And I couldn’t get myself back out right away. This was before I learned to swim. I went into a panic and I felt my chest become “compressed” or something and like it was being crushed and my lungs attempting to gasp for air. It was suffocating. Horrifying. It felt like I was drowning. Luckily there were floaties all throughout the pool. Somehow I pulled myself up onto a kiddie float that was there and onto the wall and got myself out.
My grief reminds me of this incident because it feels so similar, like my chest is really being crushed and my lungs struggling for breath. Like I’m being held under water. I’m not speaking metaphorically but literally. It couldn’t be anymore physical if I was eleven years old and back in that pool flailing and panicking, grasping for the float to save me. But I know I will pull myself out of the worst of it and carry on.
On some occasions I feel another kind of strange feeling, almost like missing a limb, like my arm was ripped off and should still be here but isn’t and now in its place is a weird tingling or numbness or something. I don’t know if it makes sense but it’s what I feel occasionally with grief. It’s not a feeling in my arm, I don’t know where I feel it, maybe in my head? my chest? my whole being? I think that’s it. It’s just there. Here. Nowhere in particular. But it reminds me of a body part being traumatically torn off but still feeling like it’s supposed to be here or like part of it still is but mostly not. And in its empty space is a kind of numbness. I guess grief can do strange things to us.
I’m not spiritual in this way or religious so I do not believe that Diane can touch me or see me or that she’s still alive somewhere or in a “better place” watching over me and all those she loves, but at some moments I want nothing more than to feel her loving arms wrap around me in a comforting embrace. I miss her voice, her love, her laughter, her cursing, her hilarious ways, her stories….she was really funny! She was very loud and cursed a lot in a funny way just in everyday conversations, not trying to be funny.
She wanted to learn Spanish because one of her grandsons, a toddler, only speaks Spanish and she was trying to teach him English. One day at work she came running over to me yelling “omg! Kim! My grandson just said his first English word! He dropped something and yelled ahh fuck!” lol I burst out laughing! She was horrified. His first English word she unintentionally teaches him is fuck! She was trying to get him out of it fast!
One day, many years ago, my dad came to my work and as a joke he yelled to me “hey! What are you doing?!” in a mock angry voice, just as Diane was going by in a car and she did not realize that he’s my dad and was joking and thought he was messing with me and she angrily yelled at him “She’s working! What the fuck’s it look like she’s doing?!” lol my dad was pissed! But Diane always looked out for me. Always.
She did so much for me, tried to help me find a job I wanted, gave me big tips at work, always told me she loves me and how wonderful I am, would bring me food over that she thought I would like as a surprise, invited me to her house with her big family for thanksgiving in case I was going to be alone,
So much….one day for St. Patrick’s Day she made my family cabbage and ham, for me to take home. ❤
I even miss the things she did sometimes to annoy me! Things I never would have thought I could miss! Lol But now I laugh about it. 😀
A few weeks ago, while on a bus, I looked out the window and saw a lady with her back turned to me who looked exactly like Diane at that angle. I couldn’t believe it, my breath caught. If Diane was alive, I would have been convinced that lady was her. I would have went to work and said “hey I saw you today!!!”
That’s how much she resembled her at that angle. Diane was very small, short, and thin, with shoulder length, dark black hair, and she sometimes wore a long jacket and that’s exactly like this lady. I couldn’t see her face but I wanted to run off the bus and hug her. I stared and for a few seconds I imagined that Diane was back on this Earth and that I was getting to look at her again once more for a few last seconds. I felt kind of blessed to have this opportunity to feel like I was looking at her. I tried to trick part of my brain into really believing it was her just so I could have a few more seconds with Diane on Earth. I felt so greedy. Like I wanted as many seconds I could have to pretend and believe. It may seem a bit twisted but I was consumed in grief.
It felt so bizarre seeing her like that knowing it couldn’t possibly have been her.
And Diane wore hearing aids. And she would often put her hand to her ear to adjust the hearing aid. It was one of those “tics” or very mundane, mindless little things, a “personal habit” or detail no one ever thought anything of but now that she’s gone, that little mundane detail that was so much a part of her, stands out to me. It really makes it harder to believe she can just not be here anymore. It’s a bit difficult to explain in words. But I keep thinking about it.
Anyway, my body has been longing to listen to songs that aren’t very uplifting. Uplifting songs help me immensely and I am a big advocate for having a playlist of positive, happy, uplifting songs, especially for low moods. But all I been wanting to do is listen to slow songs, sad songs, not ones to get me pumped or uplift me but ones to match my mood. Ones to trigger even more deep feeling in me, even if it’s agonizing feelings. And ones that remind me that pain, loss is part of living and others can understand. But some other part of me wanted to reject, deny, repress, listen to uplifting songs, happy songs, repress that grief and heartbreak. Pretend it’s not there, that it’s not real. Then it won’t have to hurt so much.
So on that bus today I struggled with what to do.
Last night I found a blog by a man named Ryan and he sends morning e mails to help us start our day.
I had to be up very early today and on the bus I read his e-mail and it was perfect for my situation right then. He actually wrote:
“To heal it, you’ve got to feel it.”
Seriously?! Can those words be any more perfect for someone in my situation?! Imagine the struggle I had while on the bus wanting to repress and deny then out of nowhere seeing an e-mail in my inbox, that came through that very same morning, with that title! I felt as if it was written just for me! Thank You, Ryan! Thank You, thank you!
He encourages us to let our emotions, feelings, thoughts flow, emerge, just be. Even when it’s painful and our heads want to deny it. How can we heal and come to accept when we repress and deny? It will still be here, buried, suffocating, drowning. It needs air and to be nurtured.
So I listened to these slow, soft, gentle, sometimes sad songs on the bus. Songs to match my emotions, my heartache. And I admitted that I’m broken over this tragic loss. I never denied her death, only wished it would not be and denied how it affected me. But I allowed Ryan to inspire me.
It was heartbreaking but just what I needed in that moment. Mostly I am helped and inspired by happy songs but when that’s not the case, it’s ok to listen to those sad, slow songs.
It helped me heal.
Then after that I listened to the happy, fast paced song to help balance the situation and my mood. “Coast to Coast” by the Stompers. And it was the perfect balance!
I encourage you to check out his blog and subscribe if you like that kind of stuff! And to maybe let his words inspire you to feel, accept, and just be.
I embrace my grief and I carry Diane in my heart and I will allow her ways to keep inspiring me. One way we can honor those we love who die, is to incorporate some of their ways into our own lives, if they were loving, we can try to be more loving even if we already are, we can try to make it a point to make it more frequent. If they were very active with certain causes, we can carry that on if we also support the causes, if not we can be inspired to work for a different cause we support. If they helped people often (like Diane did, she would give people her last dollar even if she did not have money, she would borrow money then if someone else needed the money she just borrowed, she would give it!), we can start helping people more. If they were happy and full of joy, let’s try to remember to be happy and full of joy. Wear their favorite color, listen to their favorite song (although this can be too painful for a while), try to keep those we love who are no longer on Earth with us, alive in our hearts, keep their essence going.
I wish I could be loud and curse a real lot like she did but it’s just not in me. Lol She always told me she hoped I would always be sweet and gentle, pleasant, and quiet, and wonderful no matter what, even when I get another job where I may encounter difficult people and situations.
After my therapy appointment, I was in Center City, walking to the bus to go home. I am not depressed today and have been very joyful underneath the pain. I saw one single yellow flower today surrounded by lots of green and it uplifted me then out of nowhere I saw two small, white butterflies tenderly flying around the flower. Also, more pastel pink flowers have been blossoming on the trees, into the bright blue sky, and everywhere has the fragrance of sweet Spring flowers and the sky was bright blue with pretty fluffy clouds. It was warm but cool and breezy also with comforting sunshine. And little flower petals blowing all over, everywhere, in the gentle breeze. I found a pretty pink fragrant flower on the ground and brought it for my mom. It was already dead and crushed in my pocketbook when I gave her it but she still found it beautiful.
It couldn’t have been a more perfect Spring day and cannot be a more perfect Spring night.
I would have pictures of my beautiful and little journey out and about but my phone battery was drained! So I just cherished the moment and the day without getting pictures! Still perfect!
Something strange happened. I take pictures only slightly less than I breathe. Lol So when I see something beautiful, while I still cherish it and live in the moment, I also automatically have to take a picture. But yesterday it never even occurred to me to take a picture of one of the beautiful pink floral trees and the bright blue sky above it. I just stood and stared in awe. Then I realized and went to take a picture but remembered my phone battery drained. Lol I’m not even sure what the point is of sharing this here but I’m just fascinated and it was part of my day.
So even though I wasn’t depressed walking to the bus, I held my head slightly lowered and struggled with my heartbreak. I usually never walk with my head down. I love to look up and see people, smile at strangers, make eye contact(I’m so shy and even though I long to smile at people I don’t know, I am sometimes too shy but I’m better and better at this. I often think what if they think it’s weird or don’t care to have strangers look at and smile at them but it’s amazing how many people smile back and actually seem to appreciate my attempt at connecting) but I felt so heavy in grief. A sweet young woman with blond hair, maybe a college girl, was sitting on the corner and said to me hello, have a good day. I looked up and smiled and said thank you. I usually would have been a bit more friendly with a more uplifted tone and said something like “thanks so much, you too..” But I did express my appreciation with my smile and appreciative tone.
She helped me more than she probably knows. I don’t know why she was sitting on a street corner or anything or why she said that too me. I know she said it to help me. Her words and tone were so sincere. But I don’t know if she was saying it throughout the day to random strangers or just to me because she sensed my griefstricken and heavy heart.
But either way, my broken heart welled with love and gratitude for this beautiful Earth angel who set out to uplift a stranger. It seems like I write about this so much here on the blog about how one simple touch, word, or gesture can do wonders and it really can. I can never say it enough.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~
It is so healing to experience and even to remember later. To know someone cares to uplift people.
Now I have another “ordinary angel” to add to my infinite list.
Even though Diane isn’t here anymore, even though she’s dead and I’ll never see her again, I am blessed and thankful to have known her and I have so many beautiful memories of her and our days together. My heart breaks for her sons, her grandchildren, her other family, and friends and all who know her. I know her sons and grandchildren and other family members/friends who lived with her and know her better than I do and knew her outside of the context of work, have to be suffering more than I am. While it’s all of our loss and a loss to the whole world, the loss is truly theirs and most of the sympathy and healing messages/energy should go to them.
One thing that I find comforting is that the quote “you don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone” While often true, doesn’t apply to us here. I always knew I am blessed to have Diane as my friend, to have her love. And she always told me how wonderful she thought I am.
While there are definitely moments this quote can apply to me about things, I try to live so it won’t usually. I would like to encourage us all to live in such a way that when we lose someone or something whether it’s a person, an animal, a job, or even a gadget like a phone or microwave oven, that this quote doesn’t exist for us. Let’s all know what we have while we still have it.
Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of her, she did not like getting her picture taken. But I see her in my mind and remember her voice so vividly. And I know it’s enough.
My heart goes out to you if you are struggling with grief, whether it’s new raw grief, a raw flare up, or just the same old grief you felt for years. Hugs & love to you. I am reminded to reach out like that girl who reached out to me today. Reach out to a stranger or friend or family member who is struggling or just for no reason. Who wouldn’t love a friendly smile or warm hello even if we aren’t currently sad or struggling in any way?! Thank You, sweet girl!!
And I am reminded to be mindful of the beauty all around us even when I’m struggling. There’s always something to smile about and be thankful for even in darkness and pain.
Much love to you ❤