Friday, April 24, 2015

Good Times Bad Times

I promise I'm going back to the Leslie story soon.  I have pictures to find.  I haven't been able to locate the ones I want yet.  Also, I find that it's when I'm feeling saddest that I tend to also feel most driven to write.  Which is actually good because the writing is cathartic and I end up feeling less sad when I'm done than I did when I started.

But I did want to just make a couple general statements about how I'm handling this whole grieving thing.  First of all, thank you to everyone who has been so complimentary about how I'm doing this with the girls and our family, and I don't really know what to say except..."thank you" which I already said so now I feel stupid.  And it's all your fault.  No, but honestly, I'm just trying to really think this through and do what is healthiest for me and for the kids.  I don't want the kids ever to be scared to talk to me.  I don't want the kids ever to feel like they can't mourn because it upsets me.  I don't want the kids ever to feel like they have to be strong for ME.  I don't want the kids to ever be embarrassed about their grief.  So I try to think about all those things when I'm talking to the girls, and specifically when I'm talking to Emma.

Back to me.  A couple days ago I posted something on Facebook that I probably didn't think completely through.  I'm typically pretty tight-lipped about my feelings (one of the things Leslie told me I needed to work on when she was gone) so when I posted that I was struggling and that I was going to log out for a while, I didn't anticipate people thinking I was maybe in crisis mode.  And maybe you didn't.  Maybe you just thought you'd be nice and check on me.  Thank you for that.  And sorry if you thought I was a wreck.

I'm discovering this weird phenomenon that I feel good about mourning, and I feel bad about having good days.  And the bad feeling is driven by guilt over not mourning hard enough and the good feeling is driven by respect for Leslie's memory, and I'm not sure either is "right or wrong" per se, but that's what's going on.  So in a weird sort of way, when I'm feels right.  It feels good that I'm sad about Leslie's passing.  She was so important to me and so important to my family, and I'm strangely "at home" in my grief.  I feel like grieving is normal and natural and so even though I said I was struggling the other day...I was fine.  I was just sad.  And that's okay.  I'm okay with sad.

On the other hand there are times when I don't miss a beat, business as usual, I'm not even sad or thinking about her loss or her life, I'm just reacting or communicating or working or whatever, and while that means I'm not "struggling" also sort of makes me feel bad, because...well...shouldn't I be super sad?  And I know the answer is no.  Just like I know when I tell Emma the same thing, that she has to live her life, have fun with friends, laugh and giggle and do everything else that other 13 year old girls are doing that what I'm telling her is right and healthy, it's still something I feel and something I'm working through.  I have to live my life and be happy and have fun with friends and laugh and ...maybe not giggle...maybe chortle or chuckle...and do whatever other 45 year old men are doing.  But that feeling is there.  I asked a grief expert if there's a term for this, but I haven't heard back.

I'm alright.  I really am doing well on the whole with this.  In general I consider each day a good day.  And if I struggle a bit or I'm sad...that doesn't change the fact that it was a good day.  I was just sad during my good day.  I just wish I had Leslie to share my good day WITH.  And that's the whole grief thing. 


  1. we just want to make sure your ok regardless. you are loved.

  2. I really like how you can feel the grief and not panic and try to sweep it away--either yours or the girls. That sounds arrogant--I shouldn't really probably have an opinion about your grief process, so sorry if this is weird. I just know so many people--especially myself--who are so uncomfortable with strong unpleasant emotions. And I think that when I try to ignore or avoid or drown out those emotions, it never goes well.

    You're reminding me that these emotions are part of life and loving people and they are normal. So yeah.

    I don't really know what my point is beyond the fact that I am learning from you. (Not that this should be about me. God, Jim!! You are
    Making me feel so awkward I. Your awesomeness!)

  3. I remember the first time I laughed after I lost my mate. At first I felt like I had done something wrong and then I realized that he would have wanted me to laugh. After that I realized that whatever I felt was ok.

  4. I'm not a grief expert (my dissertation is on Catholic families coping with autism) but I have been trained in clinical psychology. Everyone grieves differently and, when you have kids, sometimes people set aside their grieving in order to provide for their children. It is a good sign. It means Leslie's prayers for you in Heaven are working.

    I have very close friends who have tragically lost their children. They expressed similar feelings of guilt over having good days. If it helps, you can do what I suggested they do. Talk to Leslie like she is in the room....because she probably is.

    And if you could point me to a blog you have written about Lily's First Communion, I would dearly love to include it in my narrative study. I found excerpts of it on another blog, and it brought tears to my eyes. Please, let me share it with others.