Things have been quiet on the blog this month. We’ve gotten one message after another informing us of events going on back home in the states.
Both Jay and I lost a close family member in the past 2 weeks, as well as finding out that a family friend had died as well.
So here we are, locked in our own private little worlds. Pouring into our favorite hobbies or whatever task we have at hand. Not really able to do anything or say anything because we are on the other side of the world – physically and emotionally.
You see, Jay and I neither one process grief well. Maybe it’s our personalities – both introverted, logical types. Some of it might be our upbringing and the self-sufficient Midwest culture in which we grew up. Whatever it is, things like grief and loss are foreign to us. We don’t do well with raw emotion and other-than-private expressions of loss.
In one way, we are the kind of people you want around when emergencies happen. We’re both very calm and rational in the face of danger and fear. We’re better at taking action than at reacting to a situation.
At other times, this is a huge disadvantage. We find it hard to cry at appropriate times. It’s hard for people to believe we are truly sad. In fact, I’ve been called cold and unfeeling before.
The truth is that I do cry. But it’s usually private and long after my mind has had time to relax and process all the new information.
Maybe I do the grief process backwards. Because I start out with the cold, hard fact that someone close to me has died. Then I work through what that means – what will be different. And finally I am able to mourn that loss, that hole left behind.
I remember when my good friend and his parents all died in a car crash when I was in 8th grade.
It was very hard for me because I couldn’t cry for a long time – months after it happened. But there were kids who were very outspoken and public about their grief – way too public if you ask me. They got all the attention. From the teachers, the grief counselors. I felt as if I had a closer relationship with the deceased than some of those people did.
I felt ashamed. The counselors pretty much just brushed me off because I didn’t know what to say, what I should ask, how to express my paralyzing fear of death.
So I created my own way to get through. I wrote a diary, to my deceased friend. I just told him about what was happening, all the things he was missing. Eventually I just stopped writing, when I was strong enough to go through a day without wanting to tell him something.
But grief has always been that way for me. A long, quiet process that very few people get to witness. I’m always afraid that I’m not “doing it right” or that people will think that I am callous. My emotional responses are just sometimes delayed or backwards from how other people experience them. Yet, I don’t consciously hold anything back or believe that feelings are bad.
Over the years, I’ve worked on my game face for when I have to be around people who are not uncomfortable about displaying those raw emotions.
So part of me is kind of glad that we are so far away during all this. 3 deaths in a month is a lot to process without worrying about the proper social responses we need to show.
The other part of me feels guilty – for being glad and for truly not being there for our families. That’s our strong point remember? We are usually pretty good about staying calm, comforting others, and making decisions.
As we sit here, he at his desk and me at mine, I know that the silence means we are grieving. We’ll be ok. But for now we just need to be alone.