“I was supposed to be spending my evening reading the SSA pamphlet on survivors benefits but instead I’m cleaning my kitchen because I got tiny ants from letting my housekeeping go to shit for months” and other stories on widowhood <- new idea for book, to be published never because memoirs are the worst
After I texted this, my friend mentioned hearing about a guy who’d blogged daily after their spouse died. Told me he wasn’t sure it would be up my alley, though.
It was the second time someone had suggested such a writer. I was doubtful about this second one, after failing to empathize with the first. Extra dubious after finding the guy had parlayed it into a book as if it was some hopeful fucking message for those of us suffering. But I persisted in digging it up (thanks, wayback machine, I really need to donate to you at least as much as I do Wikipedia) to give it a try. All I wanted to read was the beginning, the parts that might match up with where I was now, a little more than two months out. To see if the rawness was there, to see if anyone could really empathize.
I don’t know what I was thinking. Nearly everything I read about grief, even from younger widows and widowers, rings hollow. I blame it on a variety of things, from the charitable (grief is so individual, and we cope so differently) to the narcissistic (they’re just bad writers) to the horrific thoughts that make me weep for humanity (what if most people never experienced the depth of love that I did). Or I think – I thought – that maybe the problem was that all this writing about grief is done with the perspective of time. People write books looking back from a place of being able to find some joy in existing again. And all of that does fuck all to comfort those of us still in the trenches, still just entering the tunnel of this hopeless realization.
But this recent one, I tried to give it a chance. And I found a few tiny lines I could empathize with, but most of it exuded positivity, made it seem like the guy’s attitude toward suddenly being a single parent was that his child would be an immense source of comfort, like the kid was some redeeming heartwarming thing. I don’t know. Maybe that’s how he gets by. I’m not in a position to judge anyone. But I’m exhausted and sucking as a parent and relying on family for everything. This guy is excitedly talking about matching outfits and taking photos and I’m over here trying to make sure I don’t forget to give my toddler his milk in the morning (that happened) or snap at him when he wakes up in the middle of the night.
I don’t disbelieve that they grieved strongly, these people I’ve never met.
My new theory is that in censoring their thoughts for the public internet, it removes the hideousness of this anger and pain. it sanitizes, it obfuscates. it’s no longer earnest and heartfelt; it’s focused on what the reader will see and what’s appropriate to tell them
So, sorry, Zack, it wasn’t just because I miss you that I’m starting this blog
for that i already have a paper journal, already have thousands of messages to friends begging for support at odd hours, notes in my phone, old emails I’m forwarding myself, efforts and failures to write all the things you wanted to.
it was also because in some sort of egotistical pique I feel like everyone on the internet is failing at depicting the reality of grief and I want to show them up.