wings and things

Humour and grief

on October 8, 2017

Humour and grief are an odd match but sometimes they do collide unexpectedly. For example, just moments ago, I googled “how to fast-track grief” and, after discovering that this was pretty much impossible, I belly-laughed at my idiocy. I also read a useful article:

After all of these years of Anthony being so ill, as well as the last several years of him being in a nursing home, you would think that I would have a handle on how to ‘do’ grief but I don’t have a clue! I might have a sense of peace on Monday, be in a state of sobbing despair on Tuesday, sharing funny anecdotes on Wednesday, feeling blank on Thursday, totally confused on Friday, determined to get my act together on Saturday, unable to get out of bed on Sunday and then there is the inevitable Monday again and again and again.

Well, tomorrow is another Monday, the seventh Monday since Anthony died, and the anniversary of the first night I ever stayed at the nursing home on the armchair beside his bed. It is still such a shock to me that he died so quickly because many people with aspirational pneumonia either recover, or linger on for weeks.

Over the years, there have been many times when I couldn’t rouse Anthony (TIAs or just sleepy), so I had become a bit complacent because he would always come back. On that last Monday, I even shoved him a bit and joked, “Are you dead or alive?” This was typical of our banter and of course I had no inkling that 48 hours later he would actually be dead so it’s a strange memory now. This is very sad for me because Anthony always came back so I guess I just assumed he would live for many more years and that I would write my book about him in his nursing home room.

Anthony was the funniest person I have ever met, with Ming coming a close second. The fact that Ants, Ming and I were able to share humour over the last few weeks before he died (Ants thinking Ming was the hair-dresser, and proposing to me all over again because he thought we weren’t ‘officially’ married) makes all of the moments of all of the last years worth it.

It is heartbreaking to continue to love someone as much as I love Anthony, even after he died, because that present-tense love is such a mismatch with the reality of death where everything is in the past-tense. I keep wanting to go to the nursing home to tell him about my latest philosophical findings (a habit that always caused a cynical bemusement on his part, and, usually, one of his slow smiles). But I can’t go and see him anymore because he’s not there. I keep having vivid dreams that I have somehow infiltrated the nursing home so am always in his room with the various people who will also live their last years/moments there. And, even when I am awake, all I want to do is to go back to that nursing home room; it is a dreadful longing and probably the worst part of my young grief.

The best memories are, I think, the funny ones. The sad, despairing memories are always there of course but, up until the Sunday before Anthony’s death a few days later, we were all still smiling.

How did Anthony cope with it all? How did he cope with going into a nursing home? It must have been an unbearable blow to his pride, his ego, his sense of himself as a strong man. How did he deal with the idea that he would no longer be the master of his own home, his own farm? How did he accept that he wouldn’t be living with us anymore – with Ming and me? And how the hell did I cope?

Mostly, we dealt with all of this with his/our amazing humour and an incredible ability to accept what is. Anthony knew he had prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease but he didn’t ever know he had dementia because I never told him. What would have been the point of worrying him further? The dementia aspect of his Parkinson’s disease was so gradual, and sort of sneakily incremental, that Anthony never, ever, knew he had it!

Anthony: Let’s get married, Jules!

How wonderful, strange and funny that he would have proposed to me again just weeks before he died.






14 responses to “Humour and grief

  1. susanpoozan says:

    I loved that he proposed again, sweet!

  2. ksbeth says:

    and what a perfect circle. he put a ring on it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You must be helping so many others with your candid and heart wrenching posts. Your writing is cathartic for you, and enlightening for others even though we are being taken on such a difficult grief journey with you. Your description of so many emotions experienced day by day, such highs and lows, matches all of us who have also experienced the loss of a loved one. Keep writing.

  4. not strange at all. love like that can be eternal. Keep Anthony alive in your heart as you move forward into a different life . Very sudden but you are doing OK so keep going.

  5. judyrutrider says:

    Interesting…one imagines that long preparation for grief, (the gradual loss of my mom’s memory is like a little bit of death of the brilliant, funny woman I’ve known my whole life) will make the final parting more sweet than sorrowful. But I know better because, like you, I I’ve come to love the routine of taking her meals to her, checking in on her twenty times a day, telling her for the umpteeth time what bank gets her social security check, and assuring her she has nothing to worry about. I guess one can’t hurry grief even by contemplating the inevitable future.

  6. It does take time to heal and you will never be the same, but you have all those memories and Ming, of course. You will gradually get used to the loss. I imagine writing about it helps and I hope you keep up with us. Hugs.

  7. I love that he proposed again too! ♡
    Diana xo

  8. Tiny says:

    I have learned the same thing: you can’t rush grief. It just comes and goes, just as you describe. Hugs to you

  9. Judy says:

    All those memories will sustain you, Julie. And you are wise to know that the funny ones are treasures to give you a respite from the pain.
    You are much farther along in your journey than you realize. Although there are no shortcuts, you’ve grieved so much loss incrementally over the last five years. The finality is stark and horrible, but you will see – your journey will take you out of the darkness sooner than you can imagine right now.

  10. thesoulscare says:

    I suspect we just trip and slide and stumble through grief the only way we know how and doing the best we can do for that moment or day. If we had a formula or method we’d follow that instead of depending on the Lord for every strength we can muster up. I suspect you’ and Ming will get through grief just as you did with all of this life’s surprises and unfairness: with humor! Good sharing! If we manage to survive our grief we’ve done grief perfectly!

  11. That man knew what he loved.

  12. I think him proposing again was awesome it shows how much he loved you, I believe he is watching over you and still close by

  13. assimina simmons says:

    This is such a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing the love and grief. It will help so many.

  14. lensgirl53 says:

    Grief comes in phases for as long as we are aware of our great loss. I have learned that the greater the love, the greater the grief. I just don’t think that we are ever properly ready for the death of a loved one even when we think we are. And now that they are gone we are visited by memories good and not so good. “Time is a healer…” is, well….true to a degree. Your “young grief” will eventually grow old but bear in mind, it will never die. It will just take another form on any given day. God bless you with His peace in your bereavement. xoxo

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