Wrong Tactic for Coping with Grief

All those nice things I was writing about “choices” and “staying in control” (or at least re-gaining it), about choosing your reaction to things.

Yes. Quite. And now I am sitting here, typing this with a bit of a swollen, painful wrist. Because control did not work at all.

What happened? A friend died.

An old friend, someone I knew since childhood, since the day his family moved next to us. We used to play a lot, although we did not go to the same school, had different circles of friends. But it was always nice to just cross from one garden to the other and knock on his door.

Since we have both left the nest, we saw each other rarely, only when we both happened to be visiting at the same time. But we did manage to reconnect at least once a year, mostly during summer time. He would tell me about his jobs, and how he finally decided to go to university after all, to study law. He would describe how different he felt compared to all the young people freshly out of school, how much more concentrated he was. He said he did not need all the parties anymore, had had enough of them in his own time. He was very proud when he finished his studies quickly, but not as proud as his parents, who were positively glowing.

He also told me about his girl-friends, some of which were a bit complicated. Let’s say he did not go for easy. Until he found his love. The real one. They married recently, expecting their first child.

And then she woke up a few days ago, to find him lying next to her, not waking up any more.

When I heard it via my mum, who had got it from his parents, I first felt like in a bizarre dream. It could not have possibly happened. I spent some time staring at my tea cup that luckily was filled. I drank some tea. And, with my kids playing in the same room, I managed to actually go on with the usual things.

But after maybe an hour I snapped. I had forgotten to do some silly little thing, and that made me so angry that I had to leave the living room. I ran up the stairs and suddenly I was filled with some much rage at the universe that I clenched my fists – and hit the top of the stairs. Hard. As hard as I could.

Then I sat down, looked at my hands. They both hurt. Slowly, the pain in the left one started to recede. The pain in the right one got worse though. Stupid, I thought. That was really stupid.

And so the pain in my hand reminds me that sometimes choosing does not work. At least not if you are me.

As for my friend, when I think of him, I remember the last time we saw each other. It was this summer, at a BBQ in his family’s garden. He was the grill master, at one point he actually managed to set his own pants on fire. But only a bit. After having eaten, my kids were running around playing, his soon-to-be wife, being already pregnant, excused herself to get some rest. We talked. He told me how happy he was. He told me how the concept of having a family of his own had always seemed nice, but distant. And how easy everything had become since he had meet this woman, his love. How easy living together was. How much he was looking forward to becoming a dad. How everything had fallen into place.

It was a wonderful day. I want to keep remembering him like this. Happy.

I wish that one day his love will also be happy again, together with his child.

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