On Coping. Or Not.

I'm smarter. No, I'm smarter.  You're both dumbasses compared to my brilliance.
I’m smarter.
No, I’m smarter.
You’re both dumbasses compared to my brilliance.

I’m on a flight to Chicago. It’s an all weekend work rah-rah session. That means 48 hours with hundreds of lawyers. Lawyers drinking, bullshitting, and pontificating. Each one playing the power role, trying to impress. Needless to say, I’m not in the mood. But I missed the rah-rah session last year because my oldest brother’s memorial service was the same weekend. No way out of it this year. My damn plane was even on time. I plan to hide away as much as possible and spend some time in contemplation.

I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking lately. I’ve been in avoidance mode. I had a post recently on my “About” page expressing alarm at my coping mechanisms of choice: ice cream, wine, and mindless tv. I’ve watched the entire season of House of Cards, all three seasons of Downton Abbey, and now I’ve begun Homeland. I tried a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones. Complete and utter crap.

But I’ve strayed from my point. The poster was concerned about my wine drinking as a coping mechanism. She explained that addiction can be inherited, and that alcoholism is a progressive disease. My first thought was, “No shit.” My second was, “You must not be a regular reader of my blog.” Then I got angry. So what if  I’m sharing a bottle of wine with my neighbor nearly every night. Three people in my immediate family have died in the past eleven months. All the male members of my family are dead. I thought I saved the last one with the intervention. He was sober. Three months sober. And then he goes into the hospital, gets diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, and dies within six days. Fifteen minutes before I get to the hospital. The last time I saw him, I held his hand on the way to rehab and sat with him as I helped him check in. You tell me how you cope with that. How in the fuck does anyone cope with that?

That reminds me of my eulogy when I started off saying how much this sucks and what a cruel and merciless place this universe can be. Afterward, the deacon told me it’s okay to express my anger. Anger is normal. I said, “I’m not afraid to express it. I’m pissed off.” He seemed taken aback. I suppose he’s used to a bit more reverence.

So back to my coping skills. Or lack thereof. Yes, I’m eating too much. Yes, I’m drinking too much. Yes, I should turn off the tv and meditate. But god damn it, this grief is an iceberg.  I know when I break down crying in the middle of the work day, in the shower, while I pet the kitty, when I look at his photos, when I tie my shoes; I know that’s an infinitesimal piece of what lies beneath. How in the fuck do you cope with that? There are years of this ahead. Years. Decades, even.

But the poster was right. Wine isn’t the answer. Or ice cream. Or mindless tv. I suppose I was trying to take it in little tiny slices at a time. I’m trying to control it, lest it control me. I know I need to let it go. Running helped me connect with it, but somehow feel like I wasn’t going to die from the overwhelming pain. It’s been a month (yesterday). I want to stop coping and start grieving. I did some research last week to find a grief support group. I’m on a wait list for one and got a reference for another that might be a fit in the meantime.

And after this stupid trip, I’ll keep lacing up my shoes and head out for a cry. And a run.


  • With everything you’ve been through I think a grief support group sounds just what you need. Hope you can get through the showing off this weekend – you never know, you might even find someone you can talk to. Good luck.


    • I was very surprised at how difficult it was to find a group if you haven’t lost a spouse or a child. I think it will help. I’ve got a regular therapist, but I’d like to sit with people who are holding what I’m holding. It’s odd how this third death has me so off balance. I coped pretty well with the first two. Losing my remaining brother was just too much.


  • You can get a grief counselor at Hospice anyt time you want ! Your father was in Hospice and they are there for you…as I am! Call the Hospice you dealt with, tell them about what you have been through and that you would like to talk with someone. Outside of that….sure over drinking, eating, mindless nothingness is not good, but this seems to be a very temporary thing. You are an engaged person with life and you shall get back into the grove, when it’s time…for you. Call Hospice. and enjoy what comes your way.


  • Don’t be too hard on yourself — your situation is difficult enough without you blaming how you are grieving. I’m glad you have your neighbor to share a bottle of wine with; but that’s just my opinion. 🙂 And, further more, You Go Girl, keep using this forum to express your anger. The hand you’ve been dealt right now fuckin’ sucks. Peace, understanding and all that will come after you kick, scream and cry. –Fern (who doesn’t use the phrase “you go girl” in real life but it fit here!)


    • Fern, you are a wise woman. Not to mention, hilarious. 🙂 I think I’m done with the avoidance coping mechanisms. They got me through the initial shock, and now I’m ready to face reality. Last night’s cry was long and “ugly.” And I survived.


  • I don’t actually know anything about anything, so I cannot give you advice (it would be worthless) or comfort (it would be awkward). So, I hope the weather cooperates for you to run in Chicago, and I hope you get to witness some really ridiculous male lawyer posturing that you can share with us later. Because I love to laugh at pompous men…I mean lawyers.


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