There is a ridiculous amount of grief-language out there that says that intense personal loss can make you a better person. I’ve written about this a lot. I produced an entire audio book out of my annoyance with such platitudes.
Contrary to this absurd belief, the effects of grief on a person – their personality, their temperament, their communication styles – are not always positive. Sometimes grief has no effect on such things. And sometimes, the effect is anything but neutral.
Writing without the deeply personal is not the whole story of grief. To give the whole story, to give as many handholds as possible in the steep climb of grief, we need to hear personal stories. Each Friday, I’ll post something from my own experience of grief and love. It’s an inside look at love, at grief, at life.
This week, a post from year two. I can tell it’s during that time by the irritation coursing through my words.
I did not become “better person” when matt died.
Quite the opposite is true.
I already was calm and patient.
I was even-tempered, rarely swore, and only flipped out if I was extremely over-tired. Even then, my outbursts were largely contained inside my head.
I was endlessly fascinated by the details of things; I was aware of beauty, and was thankful for it. I already knew life was fleeting and beautiful.
Matt and I worked hard together in our partnership, and we were having a good life. Matt knew he was appreciated, and I knew he appreciated me. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty damn awesome.
When I have said this to others, what I’ve heard in response is “well, you were lucky, then.” Or, “most people don’t have that.”
So? WTF does that matter? I’m not comparing, I am stating what is true for me.
Since Matt died, I can’t say I have improved at all. My fuse is incredibly short. I am hugely intolerant of other peoples’ intolerance.
I am judgmental and spiteful and irritated with what I see as the abject whining of people who have no business whining – what? You’re angry because your husband won’t pick up his socks? And you are complaining about it, really very loudly, in a crowded coffee shop, three weeks after the fact? That might have made me chuckle to myself before, now I just need to walk away.
I don’t want to devolve here into all the ways I am not the person I was. No one wants to hear it, especially me. I’m intolerant of my own intolerance.
But still – I feel like this has shoved me backwards down a scale of evolution.
Grief has not made me a better person. Quite the opposite is true.
Sudden death ripped into my life and changed me.
And now, rather than beam beatifically at the world because of how “improved” I am, I just snarl: look – it’s the meaner, intolerant me! Now with added bitterness!
How about you? How has grief changed you, and not necessarily for the better? How do you contain your irritation with others who aren’t where you are? Let us know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.