*Names have been changed. May be upsetting as I discuss grief and death*
I’ve noticed I’m dealing with my transference issue in the same way as my grief. In that I’m not. I’m not letting the pain in. I realised this the other night when a memory of *James entered my mind, and it hit me like a lorry. I burst into tears and couldn’t get myself under control. It was just such a silly little flash of something… just how he used to sit, talk, smile and laugh – I could see him and hear him, and it was like an emotional dagger plunged into my heart.
But I’ve noticed for a while now I’ve been putting off truly thinking about him. Just like with my granddad, James is always in my thoughts, every moment of every day… I know this isn’t normal by the way… I don’t claim to understand why someone I hardly know holds as much importance to me as my own granddad, but it’s the way it is. Anyway, although they are both in my thoughts, I don’t allow myself to delve into the reality of their loss. It’s almost as if on some level I’m in denial of reality.
With my granddad I accept he’s no longer here – I can’t see him, hear him or hold his hand. But I try not to let in the whole truth… to try to shield myself from the pain. If I think about all we went through with the hospital, nearly losing him; the change in him mentally afterwards; the months of watching him waste away; saying goodbye; the day he died – all the grief of that day; his body leaving the house; the funeral; never seeing him sat in his chair again; never being able to ask him anything or tell him anything; not seeing his nose crinkle up in a smile; not having him insist I have a biscuit; not having him worry; not hearing his stories; knowing my nan has lost her life partner; knowing he won’t be at my wedding nor see me have children; knowing he’ll never see me be happy…….. if I let all that in, you’d have to scrape me off the floor. Just writing this paragraph has left me in tears. But I’m still trying to keep it all held at a distance. The reality is I never pictured a world where I didn’t have my grandparents. This was my first loss that’s affected me deeply. Now the world feels unsafe. It feels uncertain. I spent so many years being prepared that one day they wouldn’t be here anymore… I never thought that ‘one day’ would ever come. He should be here. I wish he was here.
Sorry, I’m getting upset again, because I’m having flashes of feelings and memories like I had the other night with James, where I can hear my granddad’s voice in my head, I can see him. It’s the good memories that kill us.
But one thing that still haunts me, is the last time I saw him, as himself, before he was hospitalised, whilst he was lucid, and I went to say bye to him before going home, there was a moment where we just looked at each other, and it felt like we were communicating ‘I love you’ to each other, but I couldn’t say it, because I have such issues with saying those words to anyone. And he didn’t say it, but I felt as though it was silently said. That haunted me because I then didn’t see him for a while, and the next time I did, I was in a hospital, holding his hand, effectively saying goodbye to him. Everyone had given up hope, but I would tell him to keep on fighting. And sure enough he did. The hospital had stopped treatment, but his own body fought back and kept him alive. But he didn’t recall anything that had happened. He didn’t know what we’d all been through, nearly losing him. He wasn’t himself after that. He was distant… frail. He would live out the remainder of his days in bed at home. Until almost a year ago when he went downhill, and we knew the end was coming. One night, I think it was a Monday we went to see him, and I went upstairs, closed the door, turned off the monitor so nobody could hear me, and I stroked his head and told him everything I wish I could have told him in life… everything he deserved to hear. But I had waited too long, because no matter how much I told him how much I loved him, he couldn’t say it back. I don’t even know if he heard me. His breathing was shallow, his cheeks were hollow, and his eyes wouldn’t close fully… but he was unresponsive. Seeing him like that scarred me. In less than a year he had gone from the man I shared that silent moment with, to this. I still remember saying goodbye for the last time… knowing it was the last time. Every other time I had said goodbye I followed it up with ‘I’ll see you again soon’…. I didn’t that time. That time it was simply goodbye. I walked out of the dimly lit room, partially closing the door, looked back one last time, knowing I would never see him again. (The next day my parents would do the same, and the following day, the Wednesday, he passed away with my nan and aunty by his side… I still remember getting the phone call just after it happened…) It’s odd, because at the time I don’t recall being too emotional about saying goodbye. I think I wanted to be strong for everyone, so didn’t let my emotions show. Also it didn’t feel real. It was a new experience for me. It’s only thinking back on it now, that it leaves me sobbing into a pillow like I just did.
But this is what happens. I don’t deal with the pain and sadness. I don’t let it out, because I never fully let it in. And then one little random thought will set me off without warning. And this is how I’m dealing with my grief for him, but also for James. I was in pieces to begin with, for weeks. I wouldn’t stop crying. I was harming myself. And as I started getting support for it, I shoved the thoughts and feelings away. I didn’t let them close enough to hurt me. Some might see that as a good thing. I see it as bunging it all under the rug for now. I don’t know the alternative.
All I know, or rather can assume from self-analysis, is that I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my granddad. I had a certain build-up, knowing the end was coming and I would have to lose him. I had a chance to say goodbye, which many people don’t get, but it was too late to hear anything back that may have helped me. I will never see him again. James… I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him. There was the build-up towards the end of the course, so I knew that I was going to lose him. I had a chance to say goodbye at the end of the course, but I didn’t say it properly, and I didn’t say thank you to him, as I was too emotional about the loss, so just left. I could have done with a closure in the form of being wished well personally, after the trauma of the course, but circumstances don’t allow for that. So I couldn’t hear anything that might help me. And I will never see James again… ever ….. I face the rest of my days without both of them… two men I admired so much, wasn’t ready to say goodbye to, but had ripped away from me. And I don’t know how to cope with that.
Two losses, both feeling the same, in the same year. I know it sounds wrong, but I’ve said on several occasions that losing James feels worse than losing my granddad, for a few reasons –
- I had years with my granddad. I had hours with James. I didn’t have long enough with him.
- I’m the only one to feel this pain. When losing my granddad, the whole family felt it and understood it. This is only my burden to carry.
- We didn’t have any kind of relationship to legitimately mourn.
- But worst of all…. James continues to live.
I can do nothing about the fact my granddad has gone. There is no way to bring him back. I don’t have another option. He’s gone. I can believe he’s watching over me. But with James, he’s long forgotten who I am. He’s carried on with his life, he has his own personal happiness, I’m just a number to him, and I have to keep on living knowing he’s out there still. It is so hard to mourn the loss of someone still living. Because it feels like something that doesn’t have to BE. I have to accept a death. But a part of me still fights reality that James cannot be in my life…. it feels like there’s a choice. And while he’s not dead, and I don’t have to accept eternity without him, why do I have to choose/accept eternity without him?? I will never do anything about this way of thinking, but I’m just saying it causes conflict in my head, that he’s still here, and in that way it feels like the loss is being INFLICTED on me, against my will.
I know that death feels like that too. But death is a fact of life. It’s what happens, hopefully at the end of a long well-lived life, if we’re fortunate. My granddad was 90 when he passed away. I guess you could say it was his time. I wish it wasn’t. But with James, he hasn’t died, but I have to live my life as though he has. I find that incredibly hard to do. It’s the same feelings – that I’ll never see him again. It’s beyond my control. I feel powerless. Whilst my granddad may be watching over me, James isn’t. He’s about my age, and living his life. He’s not and never will be watching over me! Simply forgetting me. That makes it even more painful, to know I’m that irrelevant, and I feel so emotionally attached to him, to this degree, not understanding what the hell is wrong with me. So I have this replica of grief with no comfort in the fact that James will be watching over me. With no hope of being reunited with him in a better place after this life. With no personal memories to hold on to like I did with my granddad. With no shared stories from other people. With no pictures. With nothing. Just my memory. This is grief multiplied. It makes no sense whatsoever, and that makes me feel even worse, like I’m a weirdo and an idiot.
Nobody understands it. I don’t understand it. I just know how painfully real it feels. How sickening and devastating it is for me. I’ve never felt something like this before. I’ve never experienced such an intense emotion that makes no logical sense to anyone, that in some way terrifies me, isolates me, and destroys me inside.
I don’t want to do life. And anytime I say things like that, I feel nobody gets it. Nobody would ever understand why losing James makes me not want to do life. I didn’t ‘love him’ they’ll say. They’ll tell me it’s not real. They’ll tell me it was unrequited, as if I actually thought I stood a chance. They’ll tell me to find someone else, but they don’t realise this is more complex than that. This is not about me being with James. This is about never seeing him again. Just the other day I was disturbed to experience jealousy… of his baby. I wasn’t wishing to trade places with his wife. I was wanting in that moment to trade places with his baby, because that is one lucky baby… whether he/she likes it or not, they will have James in their life forever… they’re family. He will always be there for them. He will protect them and love them, comfort them and dedicate his life to them. They’re lucky… that the only way they’ll lose him is when his time comes. And then he’ll watch over them. Do you know how utterly messed up I feel, that when I first met James I was physically attracted to him….. I grew to like him in a different way…. this morphed into a feeling of love and attachment …. and has ended up with me wishing I was his baby… that he would be my father, so that I wouldn’t have to lose him from my life against my will. This is so messed up!!!
I don’t know if this is some kind of a mash-up between losing my granddad, and all the losses I’ve had in life, of people I didn’t want to lose – friends, guys etc. I’ve had one guy I didn’t want to live without, but he was a dick, to put it bluntly. I had a ‘nice guy’ as a friend, and lost him to a ‘best friend’ who stabbed me in the back. It took me a while to come to terms with that, as that felt like it was against my will. But now I pretend these people are dead to me. I don’t know how to cope with loss any other way. I have to pretend it’s eternal and was beyond my power to choose… beyond the power of those people to choose to leave me. Or I have to hate them. It’s going to take a lot for me to come up with reasons to hate James. I don’t want to pretend he’s dead. I can’t. He’s very much alive in my head. I can’t escape reality. But I keep fighting it.
So I think I’m in the ‘bargaining’ stage of grief. ‘Depression’ being the other I’m experiencing, hence not wanting to live life anymore. I know I can use a bereavement service for my grief about my granddad, but who on this planet can help me with grief from losing someone like James? It’s not even like I can say it’s a break-up… it’s nothing like that. I don’t even know what you’d classify it as! So how anyone can help me with it, I really don’t know. I just wish someone out there truly understood what I’m experiencing…. so they could tell ME… because I haven’t the foggiest. I feel like a freak. I feel beyond help.
Do I just grieve for him like I do with my granddad? It feels like a disservice to my granddad, that I would grieve the same for someone I spent a total of 24 hours with! Simple fact is I don’t want to grieve, I want it to not be this way. But then I know that’s the ‘bargaining’ bit… the ‘denial’. Which I guess shows I AM already grieving for him. I just can’t take any more loss. But I’m slowly learning that life is loss. Life is pain. Life is hard. And right now I really don’t want to partake in any of it. Nothing could make this right. I just want to take a pill, fall asleep for a very long time, have a break from the world, and wake up with no memory of any of this hurt…. no attachment to anyone I’ve lost… no ties to my past, and only hope for my future. Life feels bleak right now. And I wish I’d never gone for help last year. It backfired spectacularly. Now I’ve got double the problem. No wonder I want to give up. It was bad enough this time a year ago…