I have been reading poetry lately.  (Don’t judge me!)

It’s rather shockingly helped, where practically nothing has.  Maybe it’s simply because poetry is rather flexible to interpretation.  It’s pretty easy to read a poem and somehow make it about me (narcissistic, are we?  maybe a little).

In particular, I’ve been reading The Art of Losing, a collection of poems put together by Kevin Young.  I recommend it 100 x 1 kazillion (yes, one whole kazillion).  I consider myself at a fourth-grade reading level when it comes to poetry.  I pretty much stopped at Shel Silverstein’s books and never progressed much further than that.  But, as mentioned above, I find that I’m more often than not finding solace in some of these poet’s poetic poetry.  I haven’t finished it yet for a few reasons – (1) I usually start crying; (2) I am trying to become a better reader/writer, which means I now read with a dictionary – so looking up words now and then slows things down a bit; and (3) I try to re-read them.  Sometimes, I just blow through a poem if it seems uninteresting at the moment and really don’t give it the time/attention it deserves.  So, the next time I pick up the book, I go back and re-read most of everything I read before and really have picked up on a lot more by doing that.

In the introduction to the book, the collector of this collection Kevin Young writes about the grief process: “…it brings out the best in us, and at times the worst, if only because it is utterly human.  It can feel inevitable, but is so personal, so differently pitched for each, that it can reside across a great gulf.  Yet poetry, like grief, can be the thing that bridges the gab between us, that brings us together and binds us.”

“…so differently pitched for each, that it can reside across a great gulf.”

Exactly.  I just…ugh, I don’t know Kevin Young, but I just am in awe that he can write that as if he’s inside my brain.  It’s worded so perfectly…as it should be, I guess, from a renown poet.  I couldn’t feel more alone in this, which seems so ridiculous as most people have lost someone close to them.  But we do all react or handle or deal with this so completely differently that, in the end, we’re not going through the same thing at all.

I go to grief pages or forums or FB pages and I try – but I do not – connect with the postings.  I do not want to see a kazillion smiling puppies and quotes of hope or about God.  That just doesn’t work for me.  This poetry book does, though.  Partly, because Kevin Young seems to get it and has put together a collection of amazing poems that even poetry illiterates can read.  And, unfortunately, he does get it because he lost his father.  Humbug to life…or rather to death.

Reading this book has inspired a new found appreciation for poetry in me – so much so that I’ve tried to write my own (which is probably at an abysmal second-grade writing level).  I’ll save you from it for now, but expect to see my attempts soon, typed, ever-so-diligently on this pretty little typewriter.DSCN2841

No Relief

Today, there is no relief from missing her.

It’s a constant ache in my chest.  A constant thought swirling around my brain: I miss her.

I’ve realized that Fridays are starting to be difficult for me.  I’m so tired from the work week that I can’t stave off the emotions – whatever they may be.  Guilt.  Anger.  Sadness.

They’re always there.  These emotions.  Just like a predator, silently lurking in the shadows…waiting for the opportune moment to pounce on me.  A moment of vulnerability, weakness.  Even if there’s just the tiniest chink in my armor, they can sense it.  And then, I’m pretty frickin’ easy prey.  I will crumble to the ground as they eat me whole or torn in pieces.

So, today, when I’m borderline exhausted…just one wrong step (literally – even stubbing my toe would do it at this point), wrong word, wrong anything…and they’re going to pounce.

The First Stage: Denial

Supposedly, there are five stages of grief.  Although according to this article, this isn’t true – we are all unique.  Yay us!  If there was one time, I wish everyone was boring and similar, this would be it.  We could all find common ground and say: Hey!  I remember that stage!  That was awful!  Let me buy you a drink!  We could lean on each other and know that we were united in our sorrows.  (This would also make dealing with family members much easier.  You wouldn’t find each others’ coping method completely in(s)ane.)

Also, “stages” seems to imply an endpoint.  All you have to do is get through the five stages and you’ll arrive on the other side – bright and shiny.  Having tackled your grief, you can move on with your newfound appreciation for life, a better and more resilient person.  As nice as that may seem (albeit quite robotic), the notion insults the emotions that I feel, the importance of my sister in my life.  To think I could get over this?  Are you kidding me?  My sister is dead.  THAT will suck forever.

Whether or not these stages are real, they give me a starting point for the blog.  From Kessler & Kübler- Ross’ above five stages website, they define the first stage (DENIAL):

“…the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.”

I find that a rather dramatic definition.  Maybe, because I’ve been in a continuous existential crisis for some time now…I didn’t need a death to make me question life.  I was doing that good and well before this, thank you.

My denial is more subtle and evasive than that – slips in under the door when I’m not paying attention.  And, I don’t think it’s necessarily denial at all.  It’s my default.  I think we all have a default state – a platform of truths on which each of us stands.  Simple, basic truths that define us.  That are there in our unconscious mind, giving us stability and sometimes comfort.  Truths like: I have a mother.  I have a father.  I am a daughter.  I’m an older sister.  I have a brother.  I have a sister.  My default state is to KNOW that I have a sister.  It’s not denial.  It’s that for almost 27 years, I had something, something that defined me, that gave me the title “older sister.”  Something that was a pillar under my platform.  My brain isn’t going to just up and unlearn this in the next couple of months or maybe ever.  So, when I’m not consciously thinking about her being dead…my brain, by default, unconsciously believes she is alive.  That I could call her on the phone at any moment to talk about how much Grey’s Anatomy sucked this week or to apologize for the most recent fight we’ve had or to ask how her last doctor appointment went.  And, I have picked up the phone to call her.  Because deep down within my being, within my own definition of my self and my truths, my sister exists here on Earth in all her bratty and infuriating glory.


Maybe this does sound a bit like denial after all…

Welcome to Room 257

…although, if you’re here, it probably means that you and I share a common bond – we’ve lost someone close to us.  And, in having that bond, there’s another realization we both will come to (or rather you will in reading my posts), the way we deal with our loss is about as similar as a rainbow to dog poo.  It may be possible that we are not so different – that something I say may resonate with something you feel.  Or that at least there’s comfort in knowing you aren’t alone in dealing with the shittiest thing ever…”grief.”  What a dumb, stupid word.  GRIEF.  It’s a horrible word surrounded by horrible clichés.  I am honestly sorry, though.  I am sorry that you’re going through this.  I’m sorry that I’m going through this.  But, I’m mostly sorry for my sister and whoever you have lost, because they are the dead ones.