Category: Grief

Letting go

Let your wife go, man, let her be at peace

That revelation in the heading came to me suddenly after a year of madness. That is the calm voice of reason — not to say it could be replaced in the wink of a tearful eye with the jackdaw of unreason.

The cry of the jackdaw has been filling this empty house ever since the death of my wife just before the Christmas before last. I have staggered insanely and stumbled drunkenly throughout the house we shared ranting and raving fevered laments for my lost wife — I want you back! I can’t go on without you! And so on and so forth.

If only you were still in the nursing home, I would cry out, then I could visit you — because you’d still be alive!

But, in lucid moments I had to admit that would be grossly and painfully unfair to her — hooked up to machines, no independence, no dignity. She was in four nursing homes in the last three years of her illness — necessary rehab after several hospitalizations.

The nursing homes ranged from hellish to life-saving. When I brought her home from he last one — the best, one that put her back onto the road to recovery — we both looked foreword to Christmas and the new year and several more years together in our house in the New York countryside.

But then, just as she was getting better — Fate (God? What?) struck her down with a fatal blow — a brain hemorrhage from which she never recovered.

And so began the mad ranting and tearful raving in the house on County Rode 9. For more than a year, insanity raged throughout the house — damn good thing the nearest neighbor is not within shouting distance.

And then — just yesterday in fact, came the epiphany. In the middle of one of my tearful insane rants, a Buddha-type voice suddenly came into my head:

Let her go, man, don’t torment her with your selfish entreaties, let her soul rest, let her be at peace, let both of you be at peace She’s never coming back, man. Cherish the memories of the years you were together, the places you visited, from Montreal to Copenhagen to Prague to Sydney, that’s all you have, man, those precious memories, treasure them, and honor her memory with courage and calm.

Damn, that little Buddha in my head was a long-winded little fellah, but very cool stuff. I knew he was right — stop the desperate and pointless rants because they are upsetting and unsettling my wife in her place of rest — wherever it may be.

But, goddammit, the hardest thing in my life was losing her — the second hardest is letting her go.

Shell shock routine

Grief by any other name is still hell

Grief counselors are now referring to prolonged grieving as an “adjustment disorder.” What kind of b.s. language is that?

To me, the grief of losing a life companion, a loved one, a soulmate or a family member is hell on earth. There are some things in life to which one may never, or should never, become “adjusted.”

This “adjustment disorder” bull reminds me of the George Carlin routine where he ridicules America’s penchant for euphemisms. 


Grief, by the way, is quite a business. Grief counselors charge up to $200 an hour.

But, don’t despair, like any commercial enterprise, there are always bargains out there. How about these online offers:

Grief is Lonely — Special Promo — Save 25% now! Call —

50% Off This Weekend Only — No. 1 Rated

Grief support to your phone for only $99 $74.25. Personalized based on your loss.

Okay, so $74.25 is a helluva deal, no way to beat that, and I know grief counseling can help a lot of people (who have the money), but to me, the idea of making any money off someone’s grief is not cool.

At the medical clinic I go to, all the doctors accept my health insurance — with an acceptable co-pay. The only ones who don’t are—yeah!—the grief counselors. They want cold hard cash.

So I say screw that, and go home to my cat. She’s a good listener. I talk to her about my loss and she listens and she doesn’t give me any b.s. and mess with my head. And her only fee is salmon on a small plate and a little lovin’.

I’m cool with that.

The Cat God turns into the Cat Devil

This is what happens when a grieving husband runs out of Xanax:

I screamed at the cat tonight. For the third night in a row, she knocked down the pictures of my wife I keep on the mantel in the living room (now known as the dead room—yet I continue to inhabit it).

I went crazy. I would never hurt the cat — her name is Bella, who I got for my wife Susan when her illness became a lethal presence in our home — or any animal for that matter. But, nonetheless, tonight I yelled and screamed at her like a madman. 

Since Susan’s death last Christmas, Bella is all I have, and I’m all she has. She thinks I am (and I say this as humbly as I can) the Cat God.

But when I yelled at her tonight I told her I was the Cat Devil and that I had killed the Cat God and taken over the house and I howled like a crazy Cat Devil, and Bella — who had assumed a half-hidden supine position on top of the bookcase — looked at me with detached curiosity and I told her, in my Boris Karloff voice, “You think I’m mad, don’t you?”

She just kept looking at me with the feline equivalent of ‘arched eyebrows’ as I continued my mad speech: “Well, let me tell you, I’m glad I’m mad! I’m glad I’ve gone mad, because I prefer insanity over the reality of living without Susan — the Cat Mama to you.”

Whereupon Bella jumped down from the bookcase and trotted over to my armchair and looked at me with a look that said: “I understand. I miss her too.”