*Healthy* Coping Strategies for the Grief-Stricken (*sarcasm)

I had a dream about Jake this morning.  In my dream, I was looking all over for him.  It seems as though I was stuck somewhere and when I finally got out, I ran to his sister to find out if she had heard from Jake yet.  She said she had and she thought he had gotten in touch with me.  Then his buddies started calling me–they were looking for him too.  I feel like I was on the verge of speaking with him on the phone, when I woke up.  I wanted to go back to sleep.  I wanted to talk to him.

Yesterday, March 23rd, marked seven months since the first time Jake and I went to the emergency room looking for help for him.  The doctor sent us away with pretty little pamphlets that said “Take a walk” and “Treat yourself to a nice bath”.  Five days later, Jake was dead.  Anyway, I was really very sad all day yesterday-that sobbing, sick to my stomach kind of sad.  It wasn’t until the end of the day that I realized the significance of the date.  It could have been coincidence.  But, sometimes I wonder if at some deep, cellular level, our bodies and brains just know the time frame, even when we don’t recognize it on a conscious level.

I still run past the stump.  Recently, another item that I had assigned meaning to (an angel) was missing.  It had been there for a long time.  I searched all around the tree and on the ground.  It was gone.  I’m not sure why I let this crush me the way it does.  Like I’ve mentioned before, these are just things that my brain assigns meaning to.  But it has such an impact on me.  I try to blow it off-but it keeps coming back.  So to the person who keeps taking the stuff off the stump where I run–STOP TAKING THINGS THAT ARE MEANINGFUL TO PEOPLE-YOU STUPID LITTLE JERK WHO STEALS STUFF!  (I think I might leave that on a note next time I’m there.)

Time for another confession-this is a tough one to admit.  It’s about a very sensitive subject—F-O-O-D.  I could write an entirely separate blog on food and how I use it to cope.  With eating, there is no moderation for me.  Since Jake passed away, I have been one of the following:

  • Too sick to eat anything
  • Taking complete control by restricting my calories severely (usually 700-1000 calories per day) and spending my thinking time obsessing over calorie intake
  • Stuffing my face with anything I can find–resembling the Tasmanian Devil–whipping through my pantry and fridge–until I feel so sick that I can’t think about anything except how sick I feel.  It’s easy–1. Have a bad feeling 2. Don’t let it surface–STUFF it back down with food 3. Feel sick until you don’t feel sick anymore and the whole cycle starts again.

Anyone else do this?  I’d bet money I’m not alone.  If anyone else has conquered this–and actually eats food for nutrition and sustenance–I welcome your advice.  Let me rephrase–don’t tell me to take a walk or treat myself to a pedicure.  I work out most days of the week and can’t sit still long enough for a pedicure.  I would guess I would need a total brain reset.  Imagine–being my age–and not even knowing how to eat.  I’m sure this subject will come up again down the line.

Last night, I felt closer to a nervous breakdown (whatever that is) than I have in a long time.  I walked into my closet and everything that caught my eye had a memory, a story about Jake associated with it.  Every article of his clothing brought back memories.  His shoes–my gosh–you wouldn’t believe his collection of running shoes (I think he had a running shoe addiction).  I felt like curling up in his stinky shoes and non-stinky clothes and covering myself with them.  I actually considered it.  But then I thought about how someone would end up calling my parents for help and I didn’t want them to get all upset and come all the way out to my house.  So I walked out of the closet and didn’t go back in.

Given these stories, what do I say when someone asks “How are you doing?”.  I can formulate at least a dozen responses (most of them sarcastic) in my head, but most of the time do not say them out loud.  I either respond with “I don’t know how to answer that question” or “Hanging in”.  I’ve said this before and I’m going to say it again now-it irks me (oooo–“irks”–that’s one of my mom’s words and rarely do I have the opportunity to use it), when people say things along the lines of “Wow–you’ve really got your act together”, “You’ve pulled yourself together”, “You look like you’re doing great” (most recently said to me this weekend).  When someone says these things–I literally want to punch them in the face (I haven’t yet, though).  PLEASE don’t say that shit to me.  Read my blog.  I am MESSED UP.  I have no other choice than to function.  I have no other choice than to put one foot in front of the other (one of Jake’s top songs, by the way).

I have a very close friend who is very protective of me.  Fiercely protective.  I love her for that.  She packs bear spray and mace and is super strong.  She has said on more than one occasion “I will beat the living shit out of anyone who hurts you”.  I’ve decided everyone needs a friend like her.  She will never let me NOT put one foot in front of the other.  I actually have incredible friends (far and near).  I am so grateful because every friend has purpose and reason.  While I am flailing about trying to stumble through each day, my friends are there making sure I don’t fall down for good.

You are all my favorites.






5 responses to “*Healthy* Coping Strategies for the Grief-Stricken (*sarcasm)

  1. OMG. Self medicating with food. Did it most of my life. Stopped recently, and I am not sure why even. But I think it might have been turning 40 and deciding that I am worth the kind of care I give to others. So I eat what I want. And what I want is real food. 3 times a day. I also let my bitch flag fly more often. I think letting it out has helped me not stuff it in. I don’t know if it is the “right” thing to do, but I would leave a note for the stuff stealing jerk. It might be more satisfying than a bag of marshmallows. Maybe. I wish I could help carry your load. And stop restricting your calories. That’s some dangerous shit. Love to you.


  2. Kristen, I think deep inside of you is a book. You have a profound manner of expression, and in the depths of grief may be the best times to jot down notes exactly as you have written here. Jake is a book just from what I know of him which barely scratches the surface to the depths of what you must know.


  3. Most people don’t really know HOW to respond to grief. I myself don’t have the words to express the sentiment my heart experiences as I read your eloquently expressed pain. I am certain your writing is a healing process for you, but it also helps others to open their eyes to how silly we as humans can be while we try to encourage or comfort with shallow sentiment. I am sorry for that Kristen, however, I am so happy to hear you have valiant friends that rise to the occasion to support and defend you. Keep writing, please, you are skilled, but more than that your healing words, growth, memories are also lessons for all of us in how to function as greater human beings and reach outside of ourselves.
    Oh, and food has always been my friend/foe. I struggle with control of it vs it’s control of me constantly.


    • Oh Verna-everybody grieves differently. Although I know that people mean well, my grief is oftentimes filled with anger that is directed at others. To be perfectly honest, I could meet someone in the same exact situation as I am in, and not have any idea what to say to them. As humans, we love, we care, we want to fix. When we can’t fix what’s hurting someone else, we feel helpless.


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