Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The path of grief

I intended to chronicle some of my grief here, but it has become so complicated, I'm not even sure where to start.

The private memorial for Alicia was this past weekend and Peter and I flew out to be there for it. I made a slideshow with pictures from friends and family of all stages of Alicia's life with her many, many different friends. It was really hard to make and really hard to watch.

As I said, though, my grief has become complicated. I have these feeling of guilt, like I don't have as much of a right to grief as others who were closer to her. I am remembering more and more the things I should have done, the things I should have said. The negative memories are overtaking the positive ones, especially those memories of the week in the hospital. I keep thinking that I should have just stayed. I didn't know it at the time, but it was only one more week until she was gone. I could have been there.

I can't remember why I didn't just stay, but then, if I really think about it, I can remember how uncertain everything was. Nothing was known. How much or how little time was left was the question upon which everything hung and for which there was absolutely no answer. I left because I could then come back and relieve those "on duty," and was planning to buy return tickets the very day she died. I also remember that I was thinking about my own patients, who would feel the absence of two weeks of therapy, even if it was not a life-or-death situation.

Other times, my grief is not complicated at all. The emotion just hits me full force, unexpectedly, triggered by something that shouldn't mean so much. It's as if the intellectual grief complicates the raw, primal emotional grief.

I can't rationalize away those body-wracking tears. I can't doubt the pain I feel. Until the brain takes over again, the emotion reigns and I can submit to that vastness, never hoping to try to understand it.

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