Something struck me a few weeks ago. It was Ken’s birthday, a day that, in the past, I would have planned and prepared a delicious meal that would have made him feel special. A meal that I wouldn’t normally make on a random Wednesday night. A meal that would be all about him. This is just for you, it would say (if meals could speak). I would have bought him a present and baked an Angel Food cake; I would have done other meaningful things to make sure he felt celebrated and cherished. Instead, I spent the day feeling sad and sorry for myself. I focused on my pain, my loss, my sadness, and on what I don’t have anymore. Me. Me. Me.
Good grief! Huh … selfish grief?
Ken’s death affects every aspect of my life, so I’m not sure how to get around thinking about my loss. He’s not here. That’s a stupid terrible awful fact. (Can you tell I’m having an acceptance moment?)
I hate that he’s gone, and, obviously, I hate that I feel lonely and sad, but thinking about my lonely sad self all day makes me feel selfish. (And selfish is not on the list of things I aspire to be!) On days that are meant to celebrate him, I feel even more sad, so I feel even more selfish. Which makes me feel even more sad and even more lonely. And I end up feeling even more selfish! (Can you see the spiral happening here?)
Grief sucks in so many ways. One of those ways is that it makes me feel like a selfish little monster. (I originally wrote “One of those ways is that it makes us feel like selfish little monsters,” but I don’t know anyone else who’s shared this sentiment with me, so I changed it to own it, but, seriously, if you’ve felt like this, you can own it, too!)
The thing is, I know myself really well, and I really don’t think I’m a selfish person. (How does a person give examples of her unselfishness without seeming like she’s trying too hard? Oh well… here… I have no idea which restaurant I would choose to go to given any choice in the whole wide world because for years and years and years I would be genuinely happy going where Ken or the kids wanted to go. In other words, it was never about me.) In the same way, I know I’m not an angry person, but I’ve felt so much (so freaking much!) anger. Unlike anger, though, selfishness isn’t listed as one of the “normal” stages of grief, so, for some reason, it feels wrong. The result is that, so often, I don’t even feel like myself much of the time. Who is this little monster?
If you’re grieving, I can’t help grief suck less for you. But, my hope is that by sharing my weird and crazy feelings I can help you feel less alone and a smidge more normal. Not that just because I feel something, that naturally makes it normal. Oh… Gosh… IS THAT A SIGN OF SELFISHNESS? Ahh. No. Just because I feel something, that doesn’t make it normal. Maybe I’m completely NOT NORMAL. Fine.
My hope is that you can feel less alone—whether it be normal and less alone or not normal and less alone.
Or maybe you’ll just feel more crazy because you think I’m crazy. But at least whatever it is you’re feeling, know you’re not alone.
That’s something, right?