Sunday, February 01, 2015

Thinking in spirals

Or loops, or something. We are sad and very tired and grumpy, but Geoff and I keep getting into unproductive patterns of thought, watching our thoughts to see if we're appropriately sad, and then feeling guilty if we're not. Even though we understand that intense grief isn't sustainable every minute, it still feels wrong not to grieve all the time.

There's been a lot of hysterical laughter.

I keep thinking about how qualitatively different dead is from alive. I got to the hospital ten minutes or so after Mum died. Geoff and Lynn were with her and saw her last breath, and Geoff noticed how the colour drained away from her face. I got in to the room and I knew immediately that she was dead because living people don't look like that. I sat beside her and watched the subtle colour changes as the blood very slowly started to pool in different spots. I've never been so close to someone newly dead, and I've never seen anyone dead who hadn't been considerably prettied up by the undertakes to look alive. Wow, they must use a LOT of rouge. Mum was pale and yellowish gray, and it was clear she wasn't there. It was just her body, which I honour and will inter, but not her. She is gone from us. The way the muscles go slack leads to a common expression- I kept thinking of the mummy at the museum. All the bones of the face show.

I think it's less of a shock than it would be if I had lost her in her full strength. Because it has been at least five months since I've been able to have any kind of conversation with her. More than a year since she could follow my thoughts. She was my confidante, and she almost always had good, and tactful, advice. And then it gradually started to go, and the longer a thought, the less she could follow. And I've spent a lot of time over the last year weeping rebelliously over the most recent loss, as she was slowly chipped away.

The good that came out of her suffering was that we were able to serve her and to care for her. That is a great good. A very hard, very great good.


mrsdarwin said...

When we lived with Brendan's grandmother she fell and broke her arm and went into a decline. It only lasted for ten days, but at the time it seemed like years because we never knew which day would be her last. One morning I got up to go the bathroom (five months pregnant, you know) and peeked in at her in her hospital bed in the living room, and I knew. You're right -- no living person looks like that. No living person is so still. It was very surreal -- I was really kind of afraid to touch her. And it was hard to balance the need to emotionally decompress after a grueling health care crisis with the need to be respectful.

lissla lissar said...

It IS hard. I have these brief moments of "I'm perfectly fine! I'll just do some work!" and then I fall over and sit on the floor and stare at the wall for a while. And then get up and basically want to go play and not touch any of the tasks which have accumulated while I sat on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Lissla, I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.