When someone you love leaves your life suddenly, it can shake your faith. Now, I always suspected faith had to do with God, Jesus, organized religion or a higher power. An intangible thing requiring a great big leap. Well, it is an intangible, unpickupable thing, but it needn’t require giant leaping. It can be as simple as believing that today will be a good day, or, smaller still, will contain one good moment.
Losing someone you love can also hurt your feelings. Losing Hugh, my husband of 25 years, hurt my feelings big time. I’ve always had a curiosity about feelings, a desire to study them, understand them, ever since I was 3 and blabbering up at my mother about a troubling incident with another child. She listened intently, then made this observation: “Oh, you’ve had your feelings hurt.”
So when I wrote this book, Long Climb Back, I was more concerned about documenting my emotional grief journey than my factual grief journey.
As well, when you lose a love one, you might find yourself pressed against a hard wall, that hard wall being the end of your own life. Death. How do we face death, daily, and still thrive in life? Challenging stuff.
Until I was thrust into the clutches of grief, I have to admit I hadn’t really noticed what a materialistic, non-spiritual world we live in today. We go to work, to make money, to pay the mortgage, to send the kids to college or university, or to buy another object we must have. The franchises we frequent – Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Wal-mart, Target – make us feel safe because they’re just so darn reliable. But what is true safety? It must come from inside, from a connection with one’s soul.
I know grief is a dark, unpleasant topic, but I am a writer and writers need something to write about. Around the time of Hugh’s death grief kept popping up. I kept buying pens and notebooks. And I tried to maintain my cynical sense of humor, so the story wouldn’t be so scary to read. It became therapeutic – and necessary since I’m sure friends and relatives were tired of the miserable loop I was on. Through my grief, I wrote and wrote and wrote. You wouldn’t want to see the raw data though, trust me. I’ve had to edit severely.
I offer this memoir to you for healing purposes. It is the book I wanted to read when I was grieving. I wanted to know that it is possible for a person to experience ridiculous amounts of loss, completely fuck up, go to the very depths of despair and come out the other side of it intact and capable of leading a productive life. I had to be over-the-top about it, like by climbing a really high mountain, but this is my story.
Read it. Reserve judgment. Cry. Laugh. And be patient, with me, with yourself, or your best friend, or whoever you know needs patience in the face of extreme grief. Like Hugh used to say, “Things always find a way of working themselves out.” And you know what else? “Today is going to be a great day.”