Wednesday, January 25, 2012

in which grief looks like heartbreak.

{photo by Annette Pehrsson}

I have been thinking lately about how grief is a lot like heartbreak, though I don’t speak with much experience, because my life hasn’t held a lot of either.

But everything the movies and the books say about breaking up — the lounging on the couch, the urgent need for Ben & Jerry’s, the songs on the radio that trigger spats of uncontrollable tears, the desperate desire to be surrounded with people you really love or to be alone in a dark room — that all sounds like grief to me.

So I guess you could say my heart is going through a break-up right now.

And I’m wondering if that term is a little easier for people to understand, because the horror and the pain of a break-up seems to be pretty universal. But losing a grandparent? I think that’s hard for a lot of people to fully grasp, and the grief that follows is equally difficult to comprehend.

Some days, I am filled with renewed energy, with excitement for the plans on my calendar and the life that lies ahead.

Other days, I want nothing more than to sit on the couch and watch mindless television while curled up under a blanket.

That’s just how it’s going to be for a while.

My grandmother was not a stranger to me. She did not live in some faraway land, hours away, reachable only by telephone. She was not someone I saw around the holidays and the occasional long weekend.

I grew up three houses down from my grandparents.

Until January 11, I saw my grandmother at least once a week, every week, even if it was only for a few moments or for a family dinner.

I share her name, and she is my role model.

This is rare, I know. My relationship with my family is unique, and it’s not something everyone can really understand.

That's okay.

What I am asking for, though, is a little patience. The same you might give a friend who's just lost the best boyfriend she ever had.

Because I’m going through a break-up, and I could use some Ben & Jerry’s.


Note: I've decided, if Ben & Jerry aren't available, a book is a wonderful substitute. Last week, a friend sent me a Starbucks gift card and a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid in the mail. Seriously, best grief gift ever. This entire process is teaching me what kind of friend I want to be. (Hint: The kind that sends books and thoughtful well-wishes to the people they love.)


Julie said...

What a sweet gift! I'm always at a loss as to what to give friends at times like this (I usually fall back on cookies), but a fun, lighthearted book is genius. I want to be that kind of friend, too.

Thinking of you during this heartbreak.

Melissa said...

Young friend (you know, it is so awesome to have friends who are not your own age)...absolutely, your family dynamic is quite unique and unusual. A good number of us endure the relationships you mentioned of living away from family and only seeing them now and then or at holidays. I have always "envied" (in a good way), how close your family is and has been. The loss of Little Mama will be one you'll never truly get over, but time and God's love will help you and your entire family be able to cope more easily. Love you and enjoy Ben & Jerry!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your grandmother Annie - I too am very close to my grandmother and share her name and she is still on this earth for now, but I know it wont be forever. I am thankful that I have gotten to have the relationship I have with her & thankful she will be there to greet me in heaven when she goes. Grieving takes time but its very, very needed. Thanks for sharing your emotions, words & journey with the rest of us.

Mom said...

I love you Annie! Thanks for putting into words exactly how most of us are feeling. You are precious to me, just like your grandmother!!

Anonymous said...

You really have some amazing friends by your side!
It takes time. Take care of you and you will heal of this heartbreak, eventually.

Sabrina said...

Take time to write down treasured memories with your grandma. Even if you don't blog about them, you will appreciate having a written remembrances record. And since writing is one of your many gifts I think the words will just flow. Take it day by day Annie.

TefMarie said...

I think that grief gift is one of the best things ever. It's friends like that who help our worlds go round. I am praying for you!