Home > Beckie > I am standing toe to toe and eye to eye with Grief

I am standing toe to toe and eye to eye with Grief


“When the going gets tough, the tough wear waterproof mascara.”

I saw this on a card, while picking out cards to thank people a week after Jim passed away – and I had waterproof mascara in my hand.  I laughed and tears stared to form as I thought how I was living this card.  But, almost four months later, I’m in a different place.  However, I’m still wearing waterproof mascara.

I know I’m going to live with it coming and going for a long time, but I’m getting really tired of Grief.  (And, yes, to me it is a proper noun.)  At least, Grief doesn’t come along and hang on me for a day or even days anymore.  I definitely still have bad minutes and sometimes hours.  However, looking back at myself in those moments, here is how I seem to be handling it.  When Grief pushes, I push back, or mostly, I let it punch right past me.  Yeah, I feel like it’s a fight, and I need to win.

Then, there are certain ways of thinking that have to change.  This is a slower, more subtle and shadowy form of Grief.  I may want something a certain way, but that world no longer exists.  Holding on to what “should be” causes pain.  Once I truly realize that I can’t do a darn thing about it, and it is only hurting myself and Sarah, then I am much more easily able to let go of that thought process.  Usually, to be replaced by something else I’m still holding on to.  It’s definitely a process.

Plus, I have to set an example for Sarah.  When she gets angry now, she stomps her cute little foot.  It sounds great on our wooden floors.  I should know because I set the example.  (Jim use to love how I would stomp my foot, and would laugh at me, usually landing himself in even more hot water…)  As an alternative, I am teaching Sarah how to breathe deeply when she gets upset. 

As long as I am taking two steps forward and one step back, I am still moving forward.  I did my one step back a few hours ago at the post office.  Sarah’s daycare needs her shot record, and it arrived in the mail.  I opened it thinking I would toss the envelope and keep the paper in the truck for when I go pick her up later.  Jim’s signature instantly struck me.  It wasn’t just seeing his handwriting.  It was seeing it so often.  Jim wanted to be there for Sarah when she was getting her shots.  And it was knowing there will be no more signatures.  As my chest tightened and my eyes started to water, I thought, “Help me.  I see too many people I know at the post office.  I can’t do this here.”  I imagined Someone’s hand on my shoulder, as I rapidly blinked and took a few long, deep breaths.  Then, I was ok.  This is typical for me now.  I don’t know how long Grief will visit me this way, but I know how to handle it and that I can handle it.

  1. sue cowan
    January 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Beckie, You and Sarah are in our prayers.

    • January 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Thank you. I will need them for a while…

  2. Betty McNallen
    January 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Wow, Beck, that was such a poignant story about Jim’s signature on the shot record. One certainly wouldn’t expect to have something as mundane as a signature on a child’s shot record to have the power to sneak up behind you and land that hard a punch, but it is just that sort of thing that happens when one is grieving. And it is the love that Jim had for Sarah that had him involved with the getting of shots in the first place. I must say, you wrote about that so beautifully that it makes me think that you might want to try your had at a book.

    By the way, there is a book that I have wanted to share with you for some time now, but I was waiting until you had a chance to heal some of your pain. I think you will be able to read it now and get a lot out of it. It is Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. I will drop it by your house this week.

    • January 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Betty, Thank you for the big compliment. But, at the moment, I can only do it in short bursts. I enjoy it terribly, but I can’t sustain it – yet. Proir to this blog, I did not think of myself as any sort of real writer. Believe me this has come as a surprise. I had only written parts to scientific reports. As I told another blogger, when I took journalism, they made me the photographer. 😉 Writing use to intimidate me terribly. I think writing for and about Jim helped me out my writing “shell.”.

  3. Stephanie Head
    January 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    After checking this site a couple of times I realize that my post through facebook did not go through. Soooo….I’m reposting to you Beckie. What a moving blog about grief. It is amazing how grief doesn’t honor your time or personal space. It blindsides us with no warning. What I understood from your blog is your ability to lean in to it with courage and grace. I loved your symbol of Jim’s signature as a trigger to Grief’s invasion. I will look at the beautiful deer that come to our cabin and instantly think of Jim and his passion for wildlife. He was such a lover of God’s handiwork in nature. Somehow I see those deer differently know. So, I am seeing how Jim’s signature has been left on the hearts of those that knew and loved him! I too am learning to breathe deep. Go Beckie Go!!!!!

    • January 26, 2012 at 8:19 am

      Yes, Jim left his signature everywhere. In the Fall, when the dove start to fly through, Jim would stand at our kitchen window and stare at the 1/2 dozen or so dove who would sit in our pecan tree. I’d walk up behind him and say, “You can’t shoot them.” He sigh and say, “I know.” As I walk away I’d hear him making gun noises behind me. Jim was full-on “Jim” during hunting season. He was fun to watch.

  4. claw67
    January 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    The pink bunny slippers are soooo cute. I love buying those animal slippers for myself I have tried to buy for my daughter but she has an aversion to them (maybe due to her psychological ability to process things – my daughter is diagnosed Pervasive Development delay which means she is on the lower end of Autism and she also has delays in her emotional and intellectual areas). Did you ever watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I loved the show, Any, one of the characters was a revenge demon who was terrified of pink fluffy bunnies. Anyway, ciao for now mate 🙂

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