I’m trying to sort through so many layers.
Layers that peel back not like an onion. No. More like a large orange. There is the peel that surrounds the whole. Then there are segments inside, all of them juicy though some might have more seeds and pith than one would want to take in. Maybe one section of my orange is sweeter than all the others, to be savored and to represent the best of the whole thing. That’s what it feels like for me now. Today. In this moment.
I watched famed actor Liam Neeson speaking on 60 Minutes about grief. His actress wife Natasha Richardson died in a skiing accident very unexpectedly five years ago. He said that the grief was like a wave. I saw the dull ache of grieving is still visible in his eyes despite his smile and humor and the fact that five years have passed since his beloved’s death. Their home in upstate New York still has her presence, her things, her clothing in the closets. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Liam mentioned how well she took care of him and their sons. In that moment I caught a glimpse of Scott and how he always said that about me. I miss taking care of him. Life is different now. I am learning how to take care of myself.
There are stages to the process of grieving. Anger is certainly one of the segments of my orange. I try to make sense of death; of Scott’s death in particular and of the way he orchestrated his exit. Scott brought the chaotic atmosphere of a 3-ring circus to his exit from the moment he learned he was dying. My decision to support him in that journey meant putting my own feelings aside a large part of the time. As with all life partners there were things that he said and did that I was very angry about, situations that frightened the hell out of me in India, and even a few insensitive people without boundaries that piled oodles of unnecessary extra stress onto the experience for both of us. (After all, what kind of circus would it be without the freaky characters and clowns?)…
It was impossible—and tacitly forbidden–to express my anger, my fear, or my stress to Scott. The illusion of peace needed to be kept vigilantly in order that Scott could have confidence in my ability to be his caregiver and not be exposed to any extra fear and distress that would most certainly exacerbate his physical pain (and hasten his death). That’s called Patient Burden by physicians. One of the many hats Scott gave me to wear was to try to keep anyone from adding to his Patient Burden. My feelings were all over the place as you might imagine. He needed a rock to hold onto and I became rock-like for him. Like Liam Neeson’s heroic-stoic characters in the Non-stop action movies he has starred in repeatedly since his wife died.
People who have experienced profound loss know that eventually the rock cracks and the anger must come out. These feelings can’t be ssshushed any longer. Maybe I finally have enough distance from the experience to let myself feel the angry feelings.The initial numbness that cushioned me for months has worn off and I am more stable. Which is why the feelings are coming up for release now. I am ready for this phase of grieving today; ready for the next set of waves to roll in and the next orange to unpeel. Luckily I have strong compassionate people in my life who understand and mirror back to me positive perspective and loving thoughts. Just like Liam Neeson, I’m getting good at surfing that wave along with all the other human beings who have had someone they love “Taken” from them. I’m calling on my Inner Action Hero to propel me forward.