Avert your eyes

I’ve been sick with bronchitis for the past week. All of the stress I’ve been under made mincemeat of my immune system and I was struck hard last Thursday night with it. I even got some excellent cough syrup with hydrocodone in it.  It helped me sleep and helped me not to cough so much.

But this morning I was still not feeling better so I called the doctor and got a second appointment. And as I was driving over it happened. A mama duck started bustling her brood across the busy four-lane road. The truck in front of me didn’t even stop and mowed over them, killing two of them. I slammed on my brakes in horror as the mama duck ran back into traffic. If my windows had been rolled down I am sure I would have heard her screams of terror.

My own mouth opened wide as well, though no sound came out. My eyes screwed shut and I could not see for the tears that poured forth. The violent death of the ducklings and the anguished horror of their mama triggered a full-blown panic attack in me. Behind the wheel. I could not breathe, nor see, nor, it seemed, able to do anything useful at all. Somehow I managed to pull off the road and sat in the parking lot of a church and remained quite hysterical for at least fifteen minutes.

Obviously I was not crying about the ducks.

If you’re sick of reading about my grief, I’m sorry. But this is a place I am going to sit for a while. Please skip over me if it bothers or annoys you.

I mean this sincerely.

There are some interesting things I have learned about grief and death in America in the past few weeks.

The first is that most people are uncomfortable with it. It is something they don’t understand and something they fear, therefore they avoid it. We are expected to cry at the funeral and then go on with our lives, doing more damage to our psyches than we realize.

When we have had a profound loss in our life it is quite natural to get hysterical from time to time. It is the body’s way of releasing the pressure we build inside ourselves.

The second thing I learned was something a wise man told me. He said that grief is like playing in the surf. If you stand hard against the waves it will knock you down and fill your mouth full of water and sand. But if you let the wave wash over you, you will go down, but you will bob right back up again. Best not to fight it when it comes.

So when it comes I am going to let it consume me. I will cry ugly. I will probably choke on my own snot and cough so hard I pee my pants a little. But I will not stand against the grief. I will embrace it and ride it out to the other side. Because that is the only way I am going to get through this.

And I will understand if you need to avert your eyes.

3 thoughts on “Avert your eyes

  1. Thank you for you share. I so understand all you are saying and writing about. While I did not lose my mother, I did lose my husband 20 months ago and daily I struggle with the world expecting me to operate and be how I used to..when I know I can and will never be the same.


  2. hi

    not sure how this reply will work, hoping for the best.

    I am never ever going to miss anything you write. I also, mean this sincerely. One of the bonds Janet shared with me, was the freedom when we were each suffering, to tell the truth.

    sometimes we also started out with a warning that maybe this message should be deleted at once. we never did. we just listened with understanding & no judgement. I do the same for you. there were a lot of shocked horrified people on the road with you that day. miracle is, you weren’t in an accident. I do believe in angels. I also believe in the Holy Spirit helping & guiding. no fancy prayers, just the same honesty. I’m a mess of pain, confusion, self pity, whatever else may apply “please help me”. some days, all we can manage is step, step———-. women have a special need to talk with other women. men turn to activities with their friends. sounds like you have figured out the common sense way to keep going. for me, I know she’s gone, but she seems to still be with me. remember the movie “there are signs everywhere”? I’m watching for signs. flowers & butterflies seem more meaningful to me now.




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