Category Archives: grief

About rage

Let’s be honest – I am angry. In general. My default mood could be defined as an aggressive simmer and all it takes is one comment on Facebook, one well-placed meme to turn up the heat. I can work myself in to heart palpitations lying in my bed in the middle of the night just thinking about some of the things I read.

I’ve worked to keep a wide range of people from all aspects of my life on Facebook, including ones who hold political and social views that are different from mine. I thought it would help me understand them better, provide a point for human connection for us both. But all it has really done is reminded me every day that I share a planet with people who will “Like” the pictures of my children, but wouldn’t stop to help them if they were in a car wreck or give them the benefit of the doubt if they were lying dead and uncovered in the street for four hours. Then, I think of that little brown boy seven hundred miles away who started first grade in his white Polo and navy blue shorts. And it becomes personal. There are people in the world who will wish malice upon him because of his skin as soon as he hits puberty. And I can’t save him.

Neither could I save Joshua.

And, that pisses me off.  They’re not just stealing the life of my grandson. They’re disparaging the life of my dead son. And, I believe that rage is an appropriate response to that. And, that’s something that I’m not sure my friends who aren’t terrified for the lives of their children understand.  I get that I am not processing all that well these days. I’m not being productive. That I’m losing myself. I do. But I’ve got years of righteous anger bottled up – years of being the voice of reason and taking the high road and it it has only brought more and more opportunities to see people I love ground in to the pavement on the city streets of injustice.  And now, I’ve got grief behind it. Maybe I’m not being productive, but maybe I am. Maybe coming to terms with the fact that when my grandmother asked me thirty-odd years ago, “Why would you want to do that to a child?” she might have realized something I didn’t – the world is a despicable place to raise children of color.

And, I can’t save them.

~ D

The “ick” of writing memoir

Today, I spent time on the phone with the marketing team for Wailing Wall. November 10, 2015 is the official launch date, and we needed to do some planning about how to make the biggest splash. It was exciting and thrilling and then…I had a moment. A moment where the whole thing just seemed icky. Wrong. Scary.

I’m planning a strategy for how I’m going to spend a month talking about the book – ergo, talking about my Joshua’s death. And since (I hope) that Wailing Wall is not the last book, I’ll publish, I’m talking about building my “brand” as a writer on the back of losing my kid.

Icky, right?

How do people do it – write and publish and tell horrible stories about people they love and not feel at least a little icky about it?

I just looked back at a Facebook chat I had with Joshua a couple of months before he died where he asked me how writing was going. He was always encouraging, always positive about my aspirations to write something that the world would one day see. If he were here right now, he’d say, “Ma, you’re being ridiculous. Get out there and sell the damn book.” I know he’d be stoked about the book – especially the cover. I know he’d be proud of me. And he would gladly have given his story to me if it helped me heal, become more human, and live again. And still, it feels odd to be excited about the book launch, to be asking people to read it and review it or host a book signing. Odd. And icky.

How to piss off a grieving mother

In my travels through social networks, I ran across a book called, “Ten Easy Steps to Overcome, Cure and Cope with Grief.”  Far be it from me to disparage someone’s work that I haven’t read – or even work that I have read if it pertains to their own experience, but on this particular day, 380-some-odd days after the death of my son, the title hit me as simultaneously ridiculous and offensive. In fact, every word in the title save for the last three rub me raw and make me wonder whether Wayne Weeks is writing from his own experience.

Since I can’t make it past the title, I’ll take it one word at a time.

Ten Easy Steps –  Really? These ten things (are you sure there aren’t 13? Or 8?)  To suggest that there is a set number of tasks that if you do them correctly and completely will eliminate the moments you lose your breath in the grocery store when you look at the Sunny D? And those times when you hide and watch a kid playing hackeysack in the park a little longer than you should because you’re secretly pretending it’s your kid? Gone. Just follow this recipe.

But wait! There’s more!

The steps are easy. No more bloody knuckles from grating through your feelings of guilt, shame, regret. For just $19.95, you, too, can have all the answers!

Overcome: For me, this word sounds like there is an end-point to grief. No one I have talked to in this journey – and one woman from The Compassionate Friends lost her son in 1981 – has indicated this is true. I have said before that grief changes you on a molecular level. Once you’ve experienced it, it becomes part of the fabric of your being. To overcome it means to rise to meet it and then leave it behind, but I know I never will.

Cure: Do I have a disease? Granted, there are more complicated grief responses that require the attention of a medical/psychological professional. I’ve had some of those and dealt with them accordingly. It’s possible that they will arise again as I continue to peel this onion. But I am not ill. I am human. A mother, who grew another human inside her body, raised him in to a man and then had to let him go. I loved him so much that learning to live without him is painful. I don’t need to be cured.

My apologies to Mr. Weeks, but he would have come closer to convincing me to buy his book if he had stuck with the final three words of his title: Cope with Grief. There is no way out except right through it. It takes how long it takes. It’s not easy. You will never be finished. But you will survive.

~ D