Grief and guilt
CASE STUDY NO. 665
And then he realized — it made him laugh, bitterly of course — that his being totally alone was Cosmic Justice, Karma, Payback from ‘God,’ whatever you want to call it.
Example No. 1: The one time he didn’t call back when his troubled son made a phone call to him and got his voicemail was followed by a disastrous tragedy.
The father was stupidly following the advice of the boy’s mother. “You’ve been coddling him,” she had said some days earlier. “If you keep doing that he’ll never make it on his own.”
Tough love, she called it, a phrase that was popular at the time, although you don’t hear it much anymore. Probably because it doesn’t work.
Two days after his son made that unanswered phone call, the lad swallowed enough barbiturates to kill himself three times over.
Example No. 2: He was a caregiver to his wife — not the mother of the above-mentioned son, he would quickly note — for the last five years of her life, the last three most intensively. He loved her totally, but there were times when he became impatient under the stress and did not treat her with the respect and concern he believes she deserved.
She had said to him, at different times, that he was (1) the love of her life, and (2) that he treated her like shit. In his heart he believes the first statement more than the other, but nonetheless, the other comes back like an arrow through his heart.
Example No. 3: His older brother, who died recently, was the total opposite of him. His brother was leveled-headed, responsible, organized and ambitious — all the things the younger brother was not. He could describe several incidents that now leave him with guilt, but he just sums it up by saying, vis-á-vis his older brother: I was a total asshole.
So where does that leave him? In an isolated void of guilt and sorrow.
He misses them all more then he can ever say. Most of all his wife. And he cries that to the rafters of the old house in which he now lives alone. It does no good, of course. Their spirits don’t visit him, their ghosts don’t even haunt him.
He would be overjoyed if their ghosts would come into his house and give him a good kick in the ass.
But it’s most unlikely to happen. He can wail and yell until all the gin bottles are empty, it won’t do any good.
They cannot hear him. They are all dead. Oblivious. No sensation. Non-existent now. No communication possible, no spiritual communion, and, empirically, no ‘Heavenly’ reunion.
It’s just him now, and the emptiness, and the gin.