Waking up alone after a nightmare.

Isolation in a Madhouse of Grief

Loneliness is a son of a bitch.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. 

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13 thoughts on “Isolation in a Madhouse of Grief

  1. I’m the guy he refers to as “my former friend.” That bothers me a lot. Sad that he feels that way. He’s still MY friend! I’ll leave it at that. Secondly, yes, I have found “The love of my life!” My wife (who passed away almost four years ago, just to set the record straight) was the love of my life but she’s gone and nothing will bring her back. He writes; “The love of his life was his wife. She was the life of his life. And when she died, he died.” I had to read that sentence a few times. What crap that is! I didn’t die! Far from it. Everyone in our situation, as I see it, has two choices. Firstly, we can choose to wallow in our grief, feel sorry for ourselves and drop out of life. Or, we can elect to get some help coping with the loss in the form of group and/or individual therapy which I did for about a year. Powerful stuff but we have to want to do it my friend. My new love, whose husband passed away several years before my wife died, is a wonderful, caring, beautiful, woman who I have fallen madly in love with and she with me. Being alone and lonely is no longer a part of our lives. I’ll get down from my soap box now but not before I end with “get off your ass, man. Get out there and get back on the world. It didn’t stop and you didn’t get off!”

  2. The way you told the story is deeply heart-felt and sad.

    Grief is expressed in many different ways with people. You’ve captured the depth of when we all lose someone special to us in our lives.

  3. Grief can be so overwhelming all on it’s own. Then add isolation on top of that and I can understand feeling as if you’re in a Madhouse. I’m so glad you’re able to express all of this through your writing.

  4. Thanks, man, but I’ve decided to close down the pity party. Give me some more of your wild poems!

  5. Thank you for that but I think I express too much, especially when I’m “under the influence” as the saying goes.

  6. Rachel, you are the best. Thank you. I wrote down something the other day about your poetry. I think it was this: Your poems are like a gentle rain falling on a bone dry desert; a miracle happens — flowers grow.
    Anyway, today I’m going to post a news item about NZ — a great country.

  7. You are welcome, Mich.

    Tomorrow morning…I’ll be posting a wild poem that is my last puzzle in part 3. It’s wild stuff and has 10 Easter eggs. They are simple and really far out. 🙂 Be there tomorrow morning 3:00am my time L.A.