Good Grief?

My brother Steve at Grandma's funeral.

Not likely. Grief is a place I call Hell. It offers no rationale for its cruelty. No mercy for the living when death takes loved ones from us. Grief drags us through places we’d rather not see. But knowing our lives will never be the same again, we’re compelled to linger at times, unable to absorb the finality of life when the Universe takes those we love away.

Six years ago today, my former wife passed. We’d been divorced nearly a decade before she died. We were fairly estranged; and I never said a proper good-bye to her; and I won’t pretend that a blog posting here will suffice. A painful pill to keep down.

In the months prior to her death, I also lost my Mother, my Grandmother, and my two dogs.

At the end of my 11 months of hellish sorrow, I’d managed to despise my job, my house and the town I lived in. My fiancé–at the time–opted to find a boy toy on Yahoo personals while I was burying my mom;  my basement flooded twice and the house caught fire while I was away.

I wasn’t sure whether to see a therapist, a plumber or an exorcist.

Instead, I sought refuge in a full blown mid-life crisis. I began and ended relationships in record time, leaving a few truly wonderful souls likely confused and hurt by my inability to reciprocate their sentiments.

It was as if I were digging through a bin of replacement units for the lives I’d lost, the love that I thought I needed. No one could be good enough, exact enough to keep the past from haunting me.

In the end, my encounters with women became more like Big Foot sightings on a dark highway: suddenly you spot something covered in hair coming right at you until there’s a shriek, the smell of burning rubber and both parties run for their lives in opposite directions.

I don’t know what others must do to process loss. If asked, I can only say it took me six years of being fairly miserable. I went through the motions until the grief police caught up with me and explained that being alone is something I needed to be okay with.

Now, just in the past month, several friends of mine have lost loved ones too. I want to cover them. Fix it. Keep them from feeling what I’ve felt, but I know it’s not remotely possible.

Grieving is a process that I find only gets bearable once we enter its arena and swallow hard, the medicine life has prescribed for us.

Only now am I beginning to entertain the idea that life does go on and maybe joy isn’t out of the question any longer. I’ve had a terrific year of travel and relationship building with new friends and old. I see hope hanging out there just within sight now.

I think I might be finally ready to open my heart to new possiblities for love and adventure, without a steady diet of the past weighing me down.