Saturday, May 10, 2014

Grief is a phantom-limb pain

I read a long article about an Oncologist who lost his wife to cancer.  How no matter how much you know the treatments won't work, that they will have more risk than benefit (like chemo), you automatically kick into a mode where you do whatever you have to do.  Even on hospice I wanted them to keep my Daddy's drain in, to keep doing things they don't do in hospice, to keep the chance alive that he could be cured, to keep HOPE alive.    You just proceed to action mode, what test do we need to wait on today, what is the next step we can do to make him comfortable, full well knowing eventually all interventions must cease and you must accept the inevitable.   And yet, through it all, you long for the end, for the daily stress, worry and pain to end, for the suffering of your loved one to end, but you know what the end means and that is unfathomable.  It is such a precariously unbearable tight-rope walk, without a steadying pole to carry. 
I love what this doctor said about grief.  He hit the nail on the head for me and I totally 10000% agree.

"It turns out that Hollywood has grief and loss all wrong. The waves and spikes don’t arrive predictably in time or severity. It’s not an anniversary that brings the loss to mind, or someone else’s reminiscences, nor being in a restaurant where you once were together. It’s in the grocery aisle passing the romaine lettuce and recalling how your spouse learned to make Caesar salad, with garlic-soaked croutons, because it was the only salad you’d agree to eat. Or when you glance at a rerun in an airport departure lounge and it’s one of the episodes that aired in the midst of a winter afternoon years earlier, an afternoon that you two had passed together. Or on the rise of a full moon, because your wife, from the day you met her, used to quote from The Sheltering Sky about how few you actually see in your entire life. It’s not sobbing, collapsing, moaning grief. It’s phantom-limb pain. It aches, it throbs, there’s nothing there, and yet you never want it to go away."

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