It’s Funny about Grief…

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I have my Bachelors degree in Accounting, my Masters degree in Sport Administration and my PhD in Greif.

The first two I earned with hard work and money at an accredited institution of higher learning. The last I earned through life, no formal classroom training required.

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s funny about grief…

To say you never get over the death of a loved one is true on the facts only. Of course you never get over the loss, how could you? But you do learn eventually how to deal with it and incorporate it into a full and happy life.

They say happiness is a choice, anyway, right? And I completely agree with that statement. We choose how we view any situation and equally, how we are going to react.

Each loss is different, as well. I have lost a child, parent, sibling and grandparent in that order. On its face that’s messed up, if you ask me. Leave it to me to start big…

It’s funny about grief…

We both lost our son…same person…completely different approach.

But there is no right and no wrong way to feel and react (except if you harm yourself) and I think it is actually brave to get help from someone who does not know you and is trained to guide you through the labyrinth of emotion.

It’s funny about grief…

For as many times as I have experienced it I have never really gotten good at it. And, I think that is good.

Grief, for me, starts with a light blocking Kevlar blanket covering me and shielding me from the piercing cuts of sadness that permeate from the outside. Under its cover I can safely deny the depth of emotion and reality in front of me. You are never actually protected but the impenetrable veneer gives me at least the pretense of safety.

Then the Kevlar makes me hot and sweaty and I can barely catch my breath. Its presence makes me remember the reason for its existence and I fall into a deep depression, often removing myself from any type of social situation which would make me uncomfortable…which would be all of them.

Then, eventually the Kevlar is gone and a heavy wool blanket takes its place, still covering me with heavy protection all the while allowing at least a glimmer of light. The wool is itchy and makes me angry. And, I’m angry with everything.

A clerk wishes me a nice day and I get angry. How can I have a nice day?

A friend is expecting a child and I have to go to a baby shower to celebrate. But how?

A father is teaching a child how to ride a bike and I am filled with rage. How can life be simply going on?

It’s funny about grief…

The sun comes up every day. And, it sets every evening. All around the world life is going on.

Then, one day, I notice I am bouncing down the stairs. When did that happen?

I notice I wish the clerk a happy day in return.

I look forward to shopping for baby things and showering the expectant mother with love and best wishes.

I appreciate the simplicity of a father teaching a child how to ride a bike and feel the warmth reaching my heart.

It’s funny about grief…

Then, on an ordinary day, many years later,

I hear Mike and the Mechanics sing “All I Need is a Miracle” while driving and burst into tear laden singing at the top of my lungs.

“All I need is a miracle…all I need is you.” In context I know it’s a love song (or a lost love song) but in my own context it represented my greatest hope for a miracle which was not to come.

I am singing so violently that people can not only hear me through the sealed car but start to look with a mixture of worry and fear.

But then…

It’s funny about grief…

It’s because as quickly as the song enveloped me with sadness and memory, the vicious emotion passes and the moment of malaise is over. I dry my tears, brush off and move on.

If I have learned anything these past 25 years it is to allow myself the luxury of these strong emotions because when I actually feel them, feel the grips of despair, I know they are as fleeting as the shape of a cloud on a windy day.

Eventually, if you get past the denial, get help for the depression and allow the anger to dissipate into acceptance and acknowledgement, you will feel happy again. Even that bouncy happy that fills your heart with joy. Choose to be happy. I know you can do it.


This Week I’m Judianne


I’m going to get called Judianne a lot this week.  That’s how names were when I was a kid…they were a mash-up of your first and last names.  Not necessarily your full names or I would be Judith Anne and I can never EVER once remember being called Judith by any member of my family.  Judith is my doctor’s office name.  My brother was Joeymark and my cousin was Donnypaul…mash-up names.

My beloved uncle passed away yesterday, poetically, on the golf course.  He was my mother’s brother-in-law and we lived next door to them nearly my whole life.  We lived in this Kennedy-esque first generation Italian American suburban grouping of homes built by my uncles.  My mother had two sisters – one lived next door to me and the other one, across the street.  Their mother, my grandmother, lived next door to me on the other side.  My mother also has four brothers, three of whom lived in the neighborhood within a short walk or even shorter bike ride.

One of the best things I can say about our childhood is that we didn’t know how lucky we were.  If we did then we knew other people didn’t live with their relatives and have cousins more like brothers and sisters.  I didn’t live in a house with a real neighbor (one I wasn’t related to) until I was 25 years old!).  We were loved, protected and blessed with comforts of life.  The in-ground swimming pool was in my back yard.  The basketball court was next door and the fort was behind my cousin’s house across the street.

My hair was never dry all summer and sometimes we got to swim with the light on late at night (probably 10:00pm!).  Every weekend, and I mean EVERY weekend in the summer there were hot dogs and hamburgers eaten in the breezeway with all of my cousins.  There were 19 of us and we were together all of the time.  We laughed and we fought, we played games and we got in trouble for horsing around.  We were in each other’s weddings then life happened and we grew apart. 

This picture is in the breezeway in 1962.  My sister was not born yet and I was the youngest of the “older” cousins.  Seven boys and two girls…from top left: Joeymark (my late brother Joe), cousins Donny, Davey and Donnypaul…second row from left: cousins Richard, Michael, me and cousins Sharon and Benjie.  Uncle Ben was Davey and Benjie’s dad.  He was a bricklayer by trade and a contractor by profession.  He was loud and soft-hearted (always cried when I sang Ave Maria!) and I loved him with all of my heart!

But, when something like a death or other disaster happens, we sit together at someone’s kitchen table, comparing notes about life today then reminisce about those breezeway days long ago.

Uncle Ben – it’s Judianne and I want you to know how much I loved you, even when you yelled at me at the pool.  You will be missed…

Life is good!


Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta