Isolation in a Madhouse of Grief

Every night, his bungalow is a madhouse of grief.

It’s a good thing the old man has no neighbors. Otherwise they would be calling the police. They might wait until they hear a gunshot. Of course an overdose of pills makes no sound. So the police would not be called and his body would lie there for days. The indignity of death at its worst.

In this age of Covid he is well aware of the surreal tragedy overloading our minds like body bags. The nightly news has become the death hour. He reveres the heroism of the doctors and the nurses and the grocery clerks. His heart breaks at the sight of two-mile-long food lines. He knows he should get out of his own mind and his own drunken grief and join the front lines.

But he is confined and his isolation breeds morbid introspection. He is trapped in his own house and he is trapped in his own mind. He holds his self-involvement in contempt. But a person needs a companion when the world is going all to hell. You face it together. You give each other strength. You hold onto each other in the fading light.

It has been sixteen months since his wife died. You would think he would be getting over it by now. A former friend of his (former because he doesn’t call anymore), a man like him in his seventies who lost his wife two years ago, messaged him recently that he had fallen in love again. He said he had found the love of his life. The old man in the bungalow could hardly believe it. The love of his life was his wife. She was the life of his life. And when she died, he died.

He still eats and drinks (copiously) and feeds the cat and watches television and answers occasional phone calls from a couple of friends and members of his distant extended family and he talks to them about possibly moving away and starting a new life somewhere else, and they say amongst themselves, He’s fine, he’s dealing with it better now, he’ll be okay.

But when he hangs up the phone, the ghosts come out of the crawlspace, not just his wife’s but his son’s and his two brothers and he has another gin and takes two or more Xanax not counting them anymore and goes to bed and relives the nightmares and gets up in the morning and boils water for tea and feeds the cat and so on and so forth, but this is not living, this is waiting for death, not that he expects to be with his wife again in make-believe Heaven, but at least they will be together in oblivion and the madhouse of grief will be silent.


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LIfe on hold

GUEST POST

By Renata de Dios

Thirteen months ago my friend isolated himself from the world after the love of his life died.  It was right before Christmas 2018.  Nothing could get him out of his depression.   Nothing could lure him out of that bungalow on County Road 9 that held him hostage to the memories of his wife’s three-year illness.  Toward the end of the three years, she started to turn the corner to good health, but only to be struck down again.  This time there was no return.  She died in a hospital with my friend by her side.

Just a few weeks ago, we turned our clocks ahead in anticipation of Spring.  It was then that my friend miraculously sprung out of his depression and started to make plans to move out of that bungalow on County Road 9 into a small cottage near his long-time friend.  It all happened so fast.  One day a junk man was picking up his old stuff. And the next day he was making arrangements for his belongings to be moved to his new home so he could start his new life.  All was good.

Then, without warning, the coronavirus hit the U.S. like an atomic bomb, killing my friend’s dreams for the time being.  Who would believe it?  A couple of special news reports and my friend’s life had to be put on hold.  Not just my friend’s life — everyone’s life.  Not just in the U.S., but around the world. 

This week my friend would have been traveling with his faithful cat to his new home to start his new life, just in time for Spring.  It would have been a time for him to be reborn and renewed.  It would have been a time for hope.  Now that will all have to wait.  But to every season, there is a purpose… and summer will be here before we know it.


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