In honor of my brother Biff’’s sixty-sixth birthday, I’m gifting you with a short update on my grieving process. (Honest, short.)

When I started this blog three years ago, I did not plan for “grief and death” to be the largest and most popular category. I’m not sure what the vision was, but it wasn’t that. Still, I really had no choice: if I was going to write, that was all I could write.

Over the past nineteen months, I have reached out in desperation and bled all over these pages, only praying that my experiences might help someone else. So I deeply appreciate the people who have told me that my vulnerability during this time helped them grieve.  

I am also grateful to the people who have shared their own stories of loss with me. It’s so important to know we’re not alone. Solitary grieving kills, trust me — it killed Biff.

My main lessons so far:

  • you may feel like you’re losing your mind, but you’re not;
  • you should pray for wisdom and do what feels best for you because everyone’s grieving is different;
  • you should also listen to the people who love you most, because sometimes you can’t see what’s best for you
  • talk (and write) about it as much as you need to — your real friends (and readers) will stick around.

Thanks for sticking around.

Today I Am Well

Today I can tell you that I am well. I will never be “over it,” but I’d say that I am more than three-quarters of the way “through it.” I am happy most days. I have survived what I thought was unsurvivable. So if you are in the throes of grief, take courage. It will get better.

I laugh again, perhaps not quite as much as I used to, but a lot. Yesterday, someone told me I was a “cheery” person. I like that.

I have conversations where I don’t mention my brother. This is nothing short of a miracle. I no longer feel compelled to say things like, “oh – apple pie – that was Biff’s favorite,” or “Biff always liked the rain,” or “Biff had a sweater that color.” I’m sure that my friends are as relieved about this as I am.

I no longer have to tell checkers at the drug store, strangers in the produce aisle, and tellers at the bank that my brother died. His passing defined me for a long time, and was forEVER the answer to “How are you?”

I can choose when to entertain thoughts of Biff, rather than having them pounce on me and pierce my armor. Sometimes – and this is quite recent – I even smile when I think of him. There seems to be a gentleness seeping into my grief. The lasting love is starting to outweigh the acute loss.

I’ve lost a teensy bit of the larger perspective one has during times of grief, which probably isn’t good. I get annoyed at traffic, I grouse about humidity, and I get impatient with people for not doing what I think they should do. For a while, nothing seemed to matter when measured against The Loss. Now, stupid stuff matters again. I no longer live in the metaphysical.

Over the Rainbow

My relationship with music remains complicated. I prefer silence; it’s safer. Music can shoot directly through your consciousness and into your heart, and I don’t need that kind of heartache. Plus, music was an integral part of life with Biff — there are some musicians I doubt I’ll ever listen to again.

Even so, with the exception of Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole’s achingly beautiful version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, it’s now rare that a Biff-song will catch me off-guard and cause me to flee to the ladies’ room in a restaurant or pub. (And when is that 1993 song going to be taken off everybody’s playlist???)

Then there’s Christmas — the anniversary — but we won’t think about that because it will come and it will go and it will all be OK.

So I just want to give a shout-out of amazement and praise to the Power of Love that I call God for getting me this far, for teaching me so much, and for surrounding me with the most wonderful friends and family who have listened and listened and hugged and hugged and waited with me for the laughter to come back.

Thank you.

And happy birthday, dearest Biff – I look forward with joy to seeing you somewhere over the rainbow!

1451345_10202673589991568_1331444760_n.me and biff

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