Sunday, December 11, 2011


One of the books I’m reading, Healing After Loss, by Martha Whitmore Hickman (Harper, 1994), quotes social worker Lily Pincus:

When I asked the orthopedic surgeon who treated me whether people often fracture bones after bereavement, he said, without even looking up from my injured foot, “Naturally, people lose their sense of balance.”

Oh, so that’s what’s going on.

Never the most graceful of women, lately I have been walking into a few more walls than usual. My elbows flail away from me, hitting door casings. Small bruises appear on my arms and legs, and I can’t remember how I got them. Walking along, suddenly I veer off to the side like the cliché of the drunken sailor. I haven’t fallen. Yet.

Unbalanced. That’s a good way to put it. Off-center.

Losing Dad three weeks ago, I sometimes wonder I’m dealing a little too well with grief. Does that mean there’s something wrong with me?

Then, leaving a restaurant, I encounter a little man, bent over his walker, wearing a WW II, D-Day veteran’s cap. Dad had a cap like that, but for his service in the Pacific. I bought it for him, but he was reluctant to wear it, and continued with his ratty Carolina Panthers hat. Dad didn’t like to draw attention to his veteran status.

The little man is toddling toward the restaurant door. Shockwaves hit me, but I smile, say “WW II? Thank you for your service,” as I hold the door for the little man and his companion. Then I turn away, hit with that stupid weight front and center, under the breast bone.

But it passes. A young man in a wheel chair rolls up, and I hold the door open for him, too. My day to be doorman, but that’s how we do it in the South. I pull it back together, and no one with me even notices.

Talking with my husband later, I told him that meeting the old man was an unexpected slap of grief. I should have been prepared to meet my first little man with a walker after losing Dad, but I wasn’t, hadn’t planned for it.

I’m dealing well with the grief thing, honestly. Just a little clumsy, the occasional crying jag in the shower, and the urge to hug little old men.

But that’s not such a bad impulse, is it?


  1. Just keep remembering that grief is different for everyone, we handle it in our own way. It sounds to me like you are doing just fine. Those crying jags are draining, but holding it in feels like such a heavy load. I was so thrilled to see that you updated your blog. I've missed you. Hugs & <3

  2. Hey sweetie! Thanks-- that's what I really needed to hear; that it's okay.
    I'm working on several posts at once, but can't seem to get them whipped into shape.
    Hope you're doing well and hugs back, my friend!
    So enjoyed your birthday post, BTW.

  3. It is not unusual at all to want to hug old men in walkers. I think sometimes there is something about a person that reminds us of what we lost. It hits us at the most unusual times.

    I remember when my Dad passed away all I could do was to throw myself into work. It was the only way I could cope for the longest time. I just didn't want to talk about it. It took me over a year to begin to even mention it...

    I know how painful it is and I think it takes great strength to discuss your grief.

  4. Hello mi Querida Amiga! I have missed you so much... I am very glad to read ANYTHING from you, and we are all hear for you, as you can plainly see.

    When my Daddy passed away, 5 years ago now, any old gentleman I saw with somewhat balding gray, and gray mustache and beard, I saw my Dad and wanted to run up to them and hug them. I was seeing my Dad everywhere I go. And I still on occasion see him. :)

    Remember, it alright to cry, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. We loved them for so long, how can we forget about them...EVER?

    Here's sending you BIG hugs, and a heartfelt prayer for you and your dear familia.


  5. From what you've told us about your flirtatious, love-of-a-good-joke dad, seems to me he'd be just the type who would get tickled out of hugs from random strange women. I think maybe he'd like that you feel that way.

  6. What a sad and beautiful post.

  7. Hi Jane,
    You're right. I can hear him now, telling the story of the woman who came up and hugged him because he looked like her dad. In fact, I think that actually happened to him a time or too, and he ate it up with a spoon!

    Thanks, Paranormalist, for stopping by and the kind words.

  8. No, it's not a bad impulse at all. Grief made me kinder to people, I think because those strangers carry little bits of the ones I lost. Imagine the good a hug would do!
    Also, I had to nod and smile about the "sense of balance" statement. There were mystery bruises all over me for a year after my cousin Jeff passed away. And then the knee injury after Auntie Joan. These people anchor us, I think, and we tend to drift a bit for awhile once they're gone.
    Hugs to you, sweet lady. This thing with the clumsiness and the crying, it does get better. I hope it gets better for you soon.

  9. I'm happy to have found your blog :). My father, I fear, won't be with us much longer. I live 1000 miles away from my parents and don't get to see them as often as I'd like. I find myself frequently in crying ruts - like now :). So sorry for your loss.

  10. It's hard, and be prepared for people to say things to you that may unintentionally hurt. I know I have said dumb things myself to grieving people through the years, or even avoided the grieving as though I might "catch" death from them. Losing a parent is such uncharted territory that we must navigate individually. So many people have been so kind, but we have to do the hard work of grieving for ourselves.

    Don't know if any of this makes sense, but thank you for visiting, your kind comments, and for sharing what's going on in your life. Come back if you need to talk!