A DIFFERENT SHADE OF GRIEF

Here’s the thing: many know that there are stages of grief and that everyone goes through them differently. Many also know that there is no such thing as “getting over” grief; you only slip and slide through it.

But nowhere yet have I encountered any article, any book, telling me there is an other-worldly component to grieving.

*After posting the sad news on social media about my husband’s sudden death, and receiving many prayers, thoughts, and virtual hugs, I woke up at two in the morning barely a week later and posted an important update: I desperately needed coffee NOW. The background I chose was a plethora of smiley faces, all laughing hysterically. (I’m sure many friends were scratching their heads.)

*I walked into the Acme supermarket, stood near the rice and burst into quiet tears. My recently departed spouse hardly ever bought that particular brand of rice. Or any rice. We didn’t even have rice thrown at us at our wedding. It was raining and soggy rice just wouldn’t have cut it.

*I’m humming Christmas songs long after the decorations are put away and we’re segueing towards spring. And there’s no holly jolly in them–“I Wonder as I Wander,” “Silent Night,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

*Just like in pregnancy, I have cravings. Right now I crave dark chocolate; it’s what’s for breakfast (and maybe lunch and dinner). Next week it might be pomegranates, whatever they taste like.

*Even though I am deep into the fun of menopause, I’m stacking sweaters on top of sweaters to ward off an imaginary chill. I wobble instead of walking.

*I cut my finger on the envelope of a sympathy card and, amazed at the red stuff and the knife-like pain, thought, how appropriate. No, my husband did not die of a paper cut. No blood was lost on his part. Probably a reminder that I’m still alive and kicking.

* I shudder when I am referred to as a widow. It conjures up thoughts of ancient women wearing black gauzy veils over their faces and smelling of decaying carnations. Give me my makeup and fragrant tea roses and a glass of chardonnay, and call me “the surviving spouse” instead.

–Anne Skalitza, 2019

Obituaries Aren’t Us

Death is never humorous. It’s the obituaries that sometimes are.

Years ago when someone died, forms were filled out by the deceased’s loved one at the funeral home, then it was sent to the local newspaper for the obituary editor to compile into a well-written, just-the-facts, notice. Within the last fifteen years or so, our local paper has allowed self-written essays (for a fee, of course. The more words the better) in the obituary section. This has produced the gamut of writing styles and decimation of the English language. It also gives the reader insight into the family’s dynamics, whether the writer intended to or not.

This morning I was sipping my jolt of high-octane coffee when I nearly choked. Not from the hot liquid, but from a 95-year-old woman’s obituary. It ran three half-page columns exhorting her privileged life.

This is the part of the obituary that had me just about spew my coffee:

“Despite recommendations and pressure from bank trust officers to diversify the family’s (stock) portfolio, (deceased person) followed the wishes of her parents and held the (certain company) shares, some of which were purchased more than 100 years ago. The company continued to pay through the Great Depression. It is a quintessential long term investing story of which the family is very proud. The family is grateful for her faith and vision in the benefits (of) long-term stock investing.”

I’m sure the family is very grateful.

And then, about a year ago, another family seemed to have a hard time expressing how bereaved they were. They lamented that the deceased woman’s children and grandchildren now “lost a piece of their minds” over her death.

I am so sorry brains were wasted in the process.

There is also the improper use of grammar that has me become apoplectic. But that, since I wish to remain calm, is for another day.