death, denial, and living in a “sugar-coated, bullshit” world

wake, noun

Definition of wake

1: the track left by a moving body (such as a ship) in a fluid (such as water)

broadly : a track or path left

I’m not sure if everyone has it, but I possess a “skill” that (most times) has allowed me to hush fierce emotions. Let me stop you right here. Yes, I have had extensive and expensive therapy, and yes, I have made strides towards being a better, fully functioning human.

But this coping mechanism that I picked up as a tiny child is so ingrained in me that I have to constantly check myself. Am I really okay with a situation, or am I suppressing feelings that will come back to blindside me (and others) later?

When you suppress long enough, it’s really quite atrocious when emotions finally emerge. This I know, and I do not wish to return to pre-therapy land. Although in long stretches, pre-therapy Kelly had a *grand* time in this “sugar-coated, bullshit world,” as someone once called it.

When my dad died in December, I had a horrible time of it right before. I laid in bed watching awful Hallmark Christmas movies, feeling real life in waves between the sappy ups and overly downs of on-screen fake romance. I felt such despair. And I felt very alone and terribly annoyed with anyone who tried to provide any measure of comfort – because no comfort could possibly be enough.

I did not share the depth of that sadness with a soul in the world at that time. It was mine, and I wanted to be alone with it. I wanted to feel it. For the first time in memory, I knew I needed to feel everything – and I let myself, somehow at the appropriate time.

I had that luxury, while others did not.

Since then, I have been obsessed with observing the process of grief. It is so different for each of us, and it seems common to pass judgement on how others manage it. There is no pre-designated time frame, and I don’t think there is ever any “getting over it.” Not really. You either learn to live with loss, or you let it swallow you.

One of the most difficult things about losing someone is witnessing the pain of those who live on in their wake. Those waves are fierce for some, but at least there seems to be an ebb and flow. For others, though, the waves come relentlessly, crash after crash, with varying intensity but no reprieve. Still others, like me, experience a tsunami early and then small waves with increasing distance between them.

I’m fairly certain there is no correct way to do this, and I think the kindest, most compassionate thing you can do is allow each person to have their own experience.

The most lovely thing I’ve seen in this observational role has been the sharing of memories, photos, movies, songs…. all of anything that brings to light the treasure of that human being that no longer walks this earth but is still right here with us. Things that remind me of my dad make me smile; they don’t make me sad. Reading the stories he typed out so lovingly makes me emotional, but in such a good way. And I’m grateful he knew the positive impact he had on my life. He knew that those stories mattered to me, and I think that’s why he so readily shared them.

Social media is so dumb in so many ways, but the best part is that it affords us the opportunity to publicly celebrate those that we love. Hopefully, we also tell them in person. Hopefully, we utilize the opportunity to call out their light before they leave as much as we do after. Hopefully, we let them see the impact of their wake before that forever sleep.

I don’t know. Maybe this is just more bullshit. But it feels real, and maybe you get something from it, too.

Rock on. xo

Photo credit: Maddox

Categories: Musings

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