Loneliness, and a new flavor of grief

Now that I’m here in this place that is my “other” home, I am coming to see how much it truly isn’t “home.” Home isn’t simply a geographical place, of course. In a much more fundamental way, it is the place where family and friends are, the place where memories become thickly, repeatedly layered over years of shared events, occasions, rituals, and the simple cycle of changing seasons. This was a place that Kurt and I shared and called home, briefly — for one winter of blissful pre-diagnosis ignorance and one spring of desperate grasping at the last weeks of our shared lives.

Here I am now, trying to rehearse the idea of making this my second home rather than ours, but this rehearsal is not going so well at the moment. I do have a few friends here but I don’t see them regularly, and I don’t have places where I can go with a reasonable chance of seeing people I know and feel known by. I have no specific plan for making friends and creating a community around myself. I guess I was just hoping that I’d find a way somehow.

I am lonely. It hasn’t helped that I had one of my two-day headaches this past Monday and yesterday, which left me too sick to work more than a few hours a day or to do anything else but sleep. I missed my Wednesday morning run this morning. I haven’t gone anywhere in days except for scurrying out to the grocery store this evening. Tonight my head is no longer screaming at me, so I’m asking my body if it is ready to try a very short, slow run tomorrow morning. I have a feeling it won’t give me an answer until tomorrow morning. I’ll set the alarm a few minutes early and see what happens.

I saw quite a few friends last weekend at a Porsche club gathering, and that was enjoyable but in a bittersweet way. The last time I’d seen most of those people, Kurt was still with me, so this was their first opportunity to express their grief directly to me.

I know that others miss Kurt and grieve for him too, and that they have a right to feel those feelings and to express them — but it is difficult for me when someone stands there in front of me and shows me their grief so directly, when I am trying so hard to move beyond that and reweave the threads of my life. Every time it happens it is a fresh shock, another unexpected step off another unexpected cliff. And that’s just the people who already knew, and who know that I know that they knew. The really weird thing is that twice in the last week I have had an unexpected encounter with someone who didn’t know Kurt was gone, who was processing the news for the first time and doing so in my presence. That is an almost unbearable wrench back in time for me.

Two days from now, he’ll have been gone six months. It’s another one of those milestone dates that I’ll get through one way or another. I’d honestly been thinking that this month would be better until I had those unexpected encounters. Now I know that I’m still not far enough beyond it to sit there quietly and accept someone else’s expression of grief without feeling myself inevitably pushed over the cliff. I become overwhelmed by my empathy for their feelings. I can’t stop other people’s feelings, so I can only learn to control my reaction to them. It’s going to take more time… probably a lot more time still.

I’m thinking tonight about this question of how I’m going to manage my time here. I’m determined to stay at least through early spring, as I’ve made commitments and bought tickets for various things, but there are a lot of blank spaces on my calendar. I’ll have to do some research, find other things besides running that I want to do on my own and just for my own enjoyment. Then I’ll have to make myself go out the door and do them.

One step at a time.

Posted on December 7, 2011, in grief, LIfe_goes_on and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Your story slowly unfolds…since I didn’t come in at the beginning I’ve been gathering bits and pieces as you tell about your experiences. Tonight is the first time I’ve heard that you’re approaching the six month date. That you take risks at all–like occupying “the other home”–or let’s be real, risks like just being willing to get out of bed in the morning, not to mention setting running goals, you’re doing better than reasonably well! I didn’t want to say you were doing great because that could sound insensitive–ha!, but to me, you’re quite amazing in your resiliency–even if it doesn’t really feel that way. I’m sure the loneliness factor must get very hard, and relocation would be tough for anyone without some of the factors you’ve encountered. I enjoy reading how you process your feelings and make decisions to “just do it” when the mind and body aren’t particularly cooperative! I hope you’ll just keep sharing, and I hope that sharing gives you a little sense of community. I’m really pulling for you! Debra

    • Debra,
      Your comments are always so thoughtful and thought-provoking. Writing itself is cathartic for me (I feel much better today!), but you have a way of helping me take a second step back to reflect on what lies behind what I write. You’ve given me lots to think about and an idea for what I want to write about next, which I hope to do tonight.
      Thanks so much,

  2. You defintely are going down a difficult path (with it’s twists and turns, ups and downs) that we couldn’t even imagine in the not so distant past … but you ARE moving down that road one step at a time. How you process everything continues to amaze me, even as you experience the new grief sharing situations and work through them. Suspect there are many others looking for a sense of community in your area and hope you find good connections soon.

    I hope our paths cross soon (and hopefully more than once while you’re “here”). Thought of you while at Ruta’s this week, wishing you were there. Take care my friend, look forward to seeing you.

  3. I can imagine the pain of stepping back into newly encountered grief, the sense of ‘stepping off a cliff,’ as you say. But I also imagine that as a reflection of your standpoint, to be able to see how far along your path you’ve come.

    Your desert strikes me as a place with lots of snowbirds also looking for contacts and temporary roots. Here in LV, for instance, even the quilt guild has a snowbirds subunit that is reconstituted every winter. I’ve been debating about trying the local over-50 hiking group; I wonder if there’s something similar there.

    • Colleen,
      You’re right, I’m sure there is a lot going on here. In past winters, this town has gotten almost too busy (meaning too many people) once all the snowbirds arrive. My problem right now is finding the motivation to look for them. It’s 75 degrees outside and I could go swimming, but what I really feel like doing on this fine Friday afternoon is sleeping.
      So maybe that’s exactly what I need to do…?

  4. The milestones are hard to ignore or forget. We’re programmed from birth to recognize and make a big deal of them. Birthdays, new years, new school semesters… I’ve observed lots of milestones like that one you’re talking about. I pretty much take a moment, recognize the date, remember good times, laugh… And go on with my day.

    I think it’s cool that you’re in a position to work through things. Being in a place that’s still so new to you, especially as an individual. You really get to carve out a new path for yourself. I hope you enjoy the journey more than you fear it.

    • Today’s the exact six month mark, but oddly I’ve hardly thought about it. Work has been so crazy this week that right now I’m just tired and wanting to sleep. I guess that’s the way this milestone wants to be marked, and I guess that’s OK.

  5. Aniversaries are milestones, some with pain and some with wonder. Continue to be impressed that you forge through, deal with each day, and share your progress with others. Hugs, Geri

    • Geri,
      You and everyone else who comments have become my sounding board. When I’m a bit off-kilter in my thinking I usually get an inkling of that from the LACK of comments. When I get a lot of feedback like with this post, and especially when it’s positive/cheerleading comments, that helps give me confidence that I’m doing healthy things and taking appropriate care of myself.
      So even though I feel lonely sometimes and even though what contact I do have is generally not face to face, I seldom actually feel COMPLETELY alone. Thank you for that!

  6. Lori, I was out last night and telling a friend who is interested in “why” I’m blogging that I have met such interesting and thoughtful people. I learn through the “connectedness” of this medium, and that includes reading your posts…and I have nominated your blog for the Liebster Blog Award. I don’t know if you are familiar with the blogging tradition, I was not when nominated, but if you’ll go to my site and read the December 9 post you will see that I have given a brief recommendation to my readers highlighting what I enjoy about your blog. There are a few “pass it on” guidelines, but I want to say that you don’t have to feel rushed to do anything, nor do you have to do it at all if the timing isn’t right. Have some fun with it, and just do what you have the energy to do! I hope you feel honored. Debra

    • Hi Debra,
      I just now got online to write and saw that you had done that. Of course I am greatly honored!!! My only problem is that I don’t have a lot of time to surf and read other blogs, so I will have trouble finding others to recommend. I’ll give it a try, and again I appreciate the recognition.

  7. Please don’t worry about that Lori. I actually thought that might be the case. As you go forward with the blogging you may find that you do follow others, at least from time to time, and can add a blog roll. It’s kind of a nice outgrowth of the connecting part, and others also then see what/who you are reading, too. I enjoyed highlighting your blog and don’t want you to feel at all burdened to do a thing–I honestly almost didn’t nominate you for that very reason. I was quite sure you were close to maxxed out! LOL! Just enjoy that others might find you who wouldn’t have previously known where to look!! Debra

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