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Grief and Grieving In STC


When my friend Stef passed away several years ago – cause of death: cirrhosis of the liver (PSA: DON’T DRINK, KIDS) – leaving behind her two young sons and a funeral so full that it was standing room only, I remember being completely rooted the spot, my grief making the decision “do I have to pee?” as challenging as “Can you repeat the Fibonacci sequence in under 10 seconds?” I couldn’t make a decision to save myself and I could barely function for weeks (if you can call what I do “functioning.” Her death was so sudden, so unexpected, a gigantic piece missing, I could hardly handle brushing my teeth without bursting into tears.

I’d like to say that it’s different now, that I don’t still think of her and tear up, but it’d be a lie: she’s gone and she’s not coming back. So why can’t I delete a phone number she’ll never again answer? I suppose my best guess would be that it’s too final, too real, and it closes a door that can never be reopened. If I deleted the number, I could put it back, but then I’d be the creepy chick putting my dead friend’s phone number in my phone.

I’ve been thinking about her death a lot lately, since the book in which I was a contributor was published. In it, I told the story of Stef in words I could barely choke out; words that weren’t enough because there will never be enough words to capture who she was.

After she died, someone said to me (Dr. Phil? Maury? Oprah? Jerry Springer?) that we don’t lose people in one fell swoop; we lose them over a long period of time, and pop-psych as it is, it’s true.

Maybe it’s a whiff of their deodorant caught on someone walking by in the store. Maybe it’s the way their hair is adorably mussed each morning before a shower. Maybe it’s that one restaurant you went to and laughed for hours over the absurdity of life. Maybe it’s a smile seen in the crowd, so similar, or a turn of phrase you both once used, an inside joke that kept you chortling for hours.

I thought a lot about grief and grieving this weekend.

It’s taken me awhile to began owning up to the idea that I’d soon be moving from my home, and as such, I’d need to find those small inconsequential items; the things I’d never considered needing yet again.

That would be why I found myself stuck in place at Goodwill, looking at silverware organizers, while people desperate for a bargain I! might! steal! from! them! pushed their carts into the back of my ankles trying (nearly successfully!) to mow me down.

I nearly cried, not out of pain or the indignity that someone would actually consider that I’d want a Precious Moments knock-off, standing there and holding someone’s old silverware container, examining scuff marks and wondering – for a good long while – if this was something I should purchase new or not. It was then that it hit me what I’d be losing.

Sometimes, a cheap silverware container is more than that. Sometimes, it’s a reminder of the doors we close and the doors that are closed for us – some shut for good, others left ajar. (go ahead make the joke, I’ll wait here)




That’s when a door isn’t a door.

(when it’s ajar)

I’ll wait while you groan and roll your eyes wildly at my awesome joke.




Done? Good. On to more of my pithy (and low-calorie!) tripe.

I’m sure I’m not the first or last person to burst into tears in Goodwill, which helps a little with the embarrassment of crying in public (being an ugly crier means that public crying makes passers-by look at my wrists for the restraint marks – as if I’ve escaped from the local mental hospital, if there were such a facility close by. Plenty of Pantera’s but no psych facilities. We yuppies need our deliciously overpriced sandwiches on ARTISAN motherfucking BREAD more than we need proper mental health care, but alas, once again, I digress), because if I want to wail on and on like a psychopath about Justin Beaver having a girlfriend, I’d prefer to do so in the privacy of my own home.


It was there in that dusty store, being jostled from all sides by bargain hunters looking for that perfect tchotchke (or used candle, as the case may be), that I felt the pieces of my old life gradually begin slipping away. I’m not mired in grief muck the way I was after Stef passed. Her death was sudden phone call interrupting an otherwise cold, beautiful February morning in Chicago, whereas I’d watched the slow disintegration of our union once we’d decided to separate over a year and a half ago. I was reminded, standing there holding someone’s grimy old fork holder of grief, of grieving, and of loss.

However right for both parties a situation like divorce is doesn’t make it easier.

I know (some of) the challenges that starting over will bring. The losses I won’t feel until I’m out of the house; an interloper in a life formerly known as mine, someone starting over again. There will be times I’ll have to talk myself through a single moment at a time, reminding myself that it will, in fact, be okay – maybe not this moment or the next, maybe not this year or the next, but someday, I’ll wake up and realize that it is okay.

Because it is. Or, I should properly say, it will be.

There’s not a doubt in my pea-brain that will take a long time to process the complicated emotions (turns out I have an emotion beyond: “I’m hungry.”) associated with the dissolution of a union, I know this. There will be reminders of the good times and the bad that hurt anywhere from:

<->being punched in the armpit<->prick<->wasp sting<->arm tattoo<->natural childbirth and back again, while raging confusion will wind from:

how can orange be a color and a flavor?<->what kind of cell phone plan should I buy?<->who the hell reads tea leaves anyway?<->how can I survive the next three minutes?<->is this REALLY my life?

There will be tears and triumphs in this new life of mine, of this I can be certain. There will be the things that blindside me and leave me gasping for breaths while other things, things I’ve feared, will be as smooth as a baby’s dimply ass. Such is the nature of grief

Such is the nature of life.


Howdy Pranksters! How was your long weekend? Do you do shit for Labor Day? I want to be the person who’s all, I DID AWESOME SHIT, but really, it was a nice simple weekend with friends, antics and a healthy dose of debauchery.

Do please forgive these occasional things inside the posts – I’m simply trying something out (also kinda coveting those shoes)(I DON’T NEED MORE SHOES, BAD AB, BAD!), which I’ll explain sometime when we’re all very, VERY bored.

grief and grieving


(Um. I have a new addiction. It’s right there)

21 Comments to

“Grief and Grieving In STC”

  1. On September 4th, 2012 at 10:07 am Triplezmom Says:

    Have I told you lately that I love you? And how amazing I think you are with the words? No? I love you and you are amazing with words. I did not have an awesome weekend or do any awesome shit, but we did go to the pool on Labor Day, so that’s something.

  2. On September 4th, 2012 at 10:27 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Awww, that’s awesome! I always wanted to be one of those people who did shit for Labor Day, y’know?

  3. On September 4th, 2012 at 10:09 am Dawnie Says:

    I still have my stepdad’s number in my phone. For the same damn reason. It’s a reminder that he was a part of a my life, and that I will always have the good memories of when he was here. Someday when I get a new phone (re: when I drop this one and it doesn’t recover) I’m sure his number won’t transfer over. But until then, a part of him is always there.

  4. On September 4th, 2012 at 10:29 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    That’s sorta how I feel about Stef’s number – it’s there and it’ll stay there for as long as it should. When it’s time to say goodbye for real, it’s time.

  5. On September 4th, 2012 at 10:13 am Jessica Says:

    I feel like I have to comment on the fact that you accidentally said that your neighborhood was full of PanTeras instead of Paneras and my mind went to full awesome mode. I was way jealous of all the metal. Of course, rather ironically, you then mention Justin Beaver in the same paragraph, awkward.

  6. On September 4th, 2012 at 10:27 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Bwahahahahaha. I love Pantera, Panera and Justin Beaver scares me.

  7. On September 4th, 2012 at 12:57 pm Ewokmama Says:

    Yeah, grief is weird like that. It’s not about a moment – it’s about a series of moments that change you.

  8. On September 5th, 2012 at 9:33 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    You can’t possibly lose a person at once – it’s a series of those ugly Goodwill moments where we remember what we had, what we’ve lost and what will never again, thing.

  9. On September 4th, 2012 at 2:52 pm Pete In Az Says:

    On that three minute thing.

    Start with ten seconds (Can I survive the next ten seconds?) and work your way up.

  10. On September 5th, 2012 at 9:34 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I love that. I can do that. Because my mantra (given by a legit therapist) is “it’s going to be okay.” Even saying it makes me cry because it taps into that huge looming fear that it won’t.

  11. On September 4th, 2012 at 4:58 pm Janis Says:

    It’s weird the way grief works. I lost my best friend more than three years ago, and I thought I was doing better, but then her oldest daughter had a baby this summer, and once again, I am angry that she was taken from us.

    My mom died six years ago, and there are still a lot of her things that I haven’t gotten rid of, including purses she never finished making and her shoes that don’t fit me.

    As for my weekend, the most memorable part of it was when some guy ran into my hubby’s car that was parked on the street, and pushed it into my car that was parked in the driveway. :-/ other than that, it was ok, I guess.

    Oh, and I have been known to cry in stores too. That and parking structures, for some reason.

  12. On September 5th, 2012 at 9:35 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    I must investigate weeping in parking structures. Sounds like my kinda game these days.

    And yeah, I’ll think I’m okay and then WHA-BAM! and I’m left on the floor crying like a jerk.

  13. On September 4th, 2012 at 5:02 pm Cindy Says:

    I totally got a little confused and a lot jealous over the idea of a neighborhood full of Panteras. Now, I totally have that Cemetery Gates song stuck in my head and it’s all your fault. #thisiswhyiloveyou

  14. On September 5th, 2012 at 9:35 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Bwahahahahaha. While it’s a Black Sabbath song, I’m a huge fan of “Planet Caravan.”

  15. On September 4th, 2012 at 5:07 pm Brea Says:

    I still call my best friend’s cell phone. He died almost 10 years ago. You will never stop missing Stef, but you’ll find it easier to live without her. The people we lose who meant the most to us are the ones we see in everything from sticky rice to sappy hallmark cards. They’re the hardest to let go of. That said, soon you’ll be able to spend 4 hours trying to pick up that rice with chopsticks and buy that totally inappropriate card for your grandmother and laugh about what Stef would have said, rather than hurt. It gets easier. I promise.


  16. On September 5th, 2012 at 9:36 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Awwwww, I really hope so. I love my girl Stef and I miss her so much that sometimes it physically hurts.

  17. On September 4th, 2012 at 8:28 pm Leia Says:

    My mom died three years ago. I have random “Goodwill Moments” where it all hits me and I turn into an “ugly crier”. A quote that I’ve used alot is: “There are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept, things we don’t want to know, but have to know, and people we can’ t live without, but have to let go.” Hugs. It’s never easy.

  18. On September 5th, 2012 at 9:36 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Goodwill moments. I like that.

    And I’m sorry about your Mom. I really am.

  19. On September 4th, 2012 at 11:17 pm Delfin Joaquin Paris III Says:

    Loss is death and it must be grieved appropriately. You’re doing it. And you’re doing just fine. Divorce is loss and it’s anger, sadness, shame, and fear.

    Moments of joy, too.

    And you’re from Chicago, like me. Just remember that makes us better than most. See, I just made you feel better!

  20. On September 5th, 2012 at 9:37 am Your Aunt Becky Says:

    Being from Chicago makes it ALL better. Well, except for the divorce bit.

  21. On September 5th, 2012 at 11:44 pm jeri Says:

    The last conversation I had with my Dad was whether the NY Rangers would win the Stanley Cup…in 1994! I still get blindsided sometimes just watching a hockey game.

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