Grief can bring surprises. The process of grieving may show us experiences that we never imagined.
The Blurt Factor
I wrote this many years ago, only a few months after losing my son to suicide in December 2010.
Recently, a client brought up how this helped her, knowing that she was not alone in ‘blurting’ And so I thought I would share it with you.
The Blurt Factor
I’ve been calling it the ‘blurt factor’. At times it seems so strange to me that the death of my son hasn’t made the planet stop spinning. I’m sometimes puzzled that when I turn on the radio, pick up a newspaper or switch on the television that there is not wall to wall news about Mike dying. Perhaps similar to what we see and hear when there is the death of someone like Princess Diana or President Kennedy.
Mike died on December 17th, I returned to work on January 3rd. I’m self-employed so that made it somewhat easier as I can and do postpone or cancel appointments when those feelings overwhelm me.
On the phone with a treasured client a few hours ago, I found myself telling her that my son had died last month.
Because of the nature of my business many of my clients including this one know much about my personal life, I use examples from my own experiences all the time to help them to move forward in a positive manner.
Still, this particular client has moved to another state, she had no way of knowing this had happened and the phone call was not ‘about me’. Hence what I call The Blurt.
There was no reason to share this with her, it did not benefit her in any way to know. Many, if not all of my clients do know because they see one another and also because I have had to cancel or postpone appointments when I’ve had a particularly emotional day.
After I blurted, I knew I had hurt her, she was teary for the rest of the phone call. Unfair and unprofessional to say the least. This was only a moment or two of the one-hour conversation and of course, I apologized, on the phone and in a subsequent email. I don’t like that I am doing this, this blurting.
As with many of you, this is new territory for me. Part of my brain detaches often and observes with fascination the process that is unfolding.
The day before my son died a client contacted me and asked if she could simply come and share for a while with me on Friday. She had lost two people that she cared about to suicide in the previous weeks. These people were unknown to one another, but she was feeling overwhelmed and simply needed to share. So, we spent over 3 hours in my office.
As we talked, I realized that it seemed to me that survivors rarely ‘get over’ suicide. The day I spent with her and with another client who was sharing deep concerns and worries about one of his sons is the day my son died.
This is just another fact that seems to hang around that part of my brain that is simply keeping notes and is not as emotional.
When I experience something life-changing, one of the ways I cope is to read, read, read. So, after losing Mike I began reading websites and books about grief. I was horror-stricken when I read a book that told me that I should expect to curl up in a fetal position and want to die myself.
Of course, that’s not literally what the book said, but that is what I took from it at the time. Talk about selective reading!
I know that is the experience of many people and I feel horrible that is so, but it’s not been my experience. At least not yet and I pray that it never will be. It sometimes feels to me that I’m not moving through this the way I’m supposed to. But I don’t know just how I am supposed to.
I remember the morning after the officers left our home telling us about the death of our son, our baby boy, our Mikey. My husband and I were sitting together, numb. I kept thinking and even saying ‘I don’t know what to do, say or think next. There must be directions somewhere.’ I think that’s what I look for when I read, directions. There isn’t a manual that I can find so I’m stumbling through doing the best that I can, and I think I’m doing okay. Still, there’s the blurt.
I think what bothers me most about the blurt is that it hurts so many people and that feels unnecessary and cruel.
It occurs to me that for me at least, perhaps it’s the verbal equivalent to wearing mourning colors, an armband that signifies that you’ve suffered a loss, or a wreath on the door indicating to all that you may be in a fragile state of some sort.
While I absolutely do not consider myself fragile, I know that I am changed. Just what that change will look like down the road, I don’t know yet, I guess I’ll find out as time goes on.
For the moment that change brings the frequent blurt, the frequent memory lapses, occasional issues with focus and thankfully diminishing problems with sleep. As sleep returns, I expect and hope that some of these other issues will dissipate to some extent as well.
I often find myself laughing and enjoying the many pleasures in my life and I am so grateful for the blessing that while I experience profound sadness, I have not experienced depression. Still, the tears surprise me often, many times without warning.
The last several days were incredibly rough, but today feels pretty darned good and I’m enthusiastic about teaching a class tomorrow followed by watching the Superbowl.
I suspect that blurting is sort of my way of announcing that I’ve changed in a fundamental way. People can see that I’m short, they can see that I’m aging but they can’t see that I’m emotionally wounded.
Maybe that’s what the blurt is, a way of sharing and in a small way re-balancing my world.
I have always shared my excitement about my family with clients when one is coming home, has something to celebrate, etc.
I suppose that in some way this is continuing to share. For some reason, it’s important for me to assure them that while Mike is gone from my physical life, he’s not gone from my heart or mind. And that I absolutely know he’s near whenever I need him.
Perhaps the blurt will diminish or even go away. Time will tell. At any rate, it’s my intention that by expressing myself here, by sharing this strange bit of behavior (at least new and strange to me) that I will be more aware and able to release the need. Again, time will tell.
What I will say to you my friends, is that many of us blurt when we are grieving. The truth is that we need to share and this is one way of doing so. It’s a way of reaching out and it matters.