Tag Archives: Death

Feeling Lonely

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Today, I’m surrounded by people I love, but am still lonely. I’m already getting those “suck it up” looks, and I just hate people. Missing George is hard. Every week I miss seeing him at work. I miss seeing him for our weekly game night. It just keeps happening.

I’m not crushed anymore. I’m mostly back on track. I can (mostly) have conversations where I don’t bring him up on accident. I don’t feel like hiding under my desk anymore. Well, I do, but not because of George, which is the point I’m trying to make, so stop judging me. >.>

I just miss him, and it’s heavy on my mind this morning. Sorry for the repetitive post. I bet you’re all getting bored with it, but fuck it. This is where I put my feelings on parade, so this is the show you get to watch today. I love you, too.


A Wake and a Funeral

Reaching the Skies by ThisWolfWalksAlone on deviantART (CC BY 3.0)

Reaching the Skies by ThisWolfWalksAlone on deviantART (CC BY 3.0)

This last weekend was a blur to me.

Jenny and I hosted the wake, and had dozens of folks show. We played games to honor George, and had pizza, wings, cola, and other noms. I met his brothers, his sister, and his father. George was greatly loved, and people loved celebrating his life by playing his favorite games.

The funeral service was beautiful and sad. People from all over North America had come to see George off, and to share their memories and how they loved George. I was honored with the chance to speak, and I held in tears as I bragged on him mercilessly.

This entire last week has been filled with joy, appreciation, and love. George filled a lot of hearts full of love and kindness, and even people who only met him a few times knew that he was safe and wouldn’t judge anyone.

I’m sorry I didn’t post over the weekend. It was a long 48 hours, and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything, because I was so sleepy, sad, and lost.

There are no words to describe George, and no way to explain the loss of George. But I can say this.

There is no hole in my heart. Instead, there is a vault placed in my heart, and it is full of the love George gave me. I am stronger for having known him, and I am forever changed by his love.

As for you, dear reader, know that you are loved. Know that you aren’t alone. Know that you are worth it. You have my humblest of thanks for your support, comments, emails, and digital hugs. You improve my life every time you see my posts.  Thank you.

Sharing Your Pain – The Dumping Circles

I’ve long since learned, and try to live by a simple rule. When in pain, grief, fear, or frailty, there are only a couple of rules for being a good human. I call it the Dumping Circles Rule. When someone has died, for example, there is an order of who gets to dump sadness on whom. Because of current events, I’ll use George’s passing as the example here.

Dumping Circles

It starts in the middle, with Family. Family should always be allowed to dump out, and should never be dumped on. If you are not family, you do not get to say, “I can’t handle this,” or, “This is just too hard,”  or, “It’s not just about you,” to the family. Ever. End of story. The only things that should go “in” are compassion, support, respect, and honor.

The next circle is Close Friends. This isn’t about people who know someone a little bit. This is the circle of people who know all of the deceased’s fears, illness, weaknesses, and passions. Friends are the people you trust so much that you’d die for them. Friends are the kick in the ass you need when you aren’t looking hard enough for a new job. Family gets to dump on Friends. Friends do not get to dump on Family. It’s the responsibility of the Friends to comfort the family if they can, and bring support from others even closer to the Family.

The next section is for less close Friends, and Friends of the Family. These are people who knew the deceased, but not everything about them. This circle knew their schedules, and their birthdays. They knew what the deceased liked on their pizza, and saw them on a regular basis. These people may have known the deceased a long time, or a little. These people don’t know about daily struggles, or successes of the day-to-day. This circles gets to dump out to the next level, and help in their own ways.

The last section is for everyone else. If you knew each other by name, or you attended some of the same parties or restaurants, this is your circle. This circle lacks knowledge of hobbies, diet, birth dates, religious preferences, and/or passions. This is not a bad place to be. It’s just a guideline for who to cry with, or who to support.

Now, none of this negates your experience. Whether you had a short but powerful bond, or you knew the deceased your whole life, you can’t compare pain. I’m not saying you should minimize your emotions, or make them less. What I’m saying is:

Know your audience.

If you think you might be dumping in, then stop. Bring the conversation back to them, and maintain your composure if you can. If you can’t handle it, greet the person in the inner circle, wish them your best, and then find an appropriate shoulder to soak with tears.

To George’s family: If you feel like I’m dumping in, tell me. This blog isn’t for dumping in. It’s for sharing my experiences as honestly and plainly as possible. It is not in any way meant to affect you negatively. I cannot fathom the depth of your loss, the memories now changed, and the pain of losing a lifetime partner and friend. I am always at your service, and send my love, respect, and prayers with you. But I can’t leave this experience off. Terminally Intelligent has become one of my most powerful coping mechanisms. I can only hope you understand.

It’s Too Real

Apathy Dude

Image: Rory Bristol

I thought it was supposed to feel like it isn’t real. I hear people say that it doesn’t feel real to them when someone dies… I don’t get it. I wake up several times a night, with no idea why I’m upset. The it hits me: George is dead. I return to restless sleep. I wake up: George is dead. Repeat. Repeat. Needless to say, I had a restless night.

I can’t stop thinking about it. Not that I’m trying to. It’s just that every time I get lost in my work, or relax, or literally five minutes goes by, someone calls, or texts, or emails me. People looking for answers I can’t give them. People hoping that I’ll be strong, or help them understand. I don’t have answers, and I feel powerless and lost.

People keep saying things like, “I know it’s not as bad for me as it is for (Rory, Jenny, George’s family, etc.), and I cannot say this enough: Grief is not a scale. There is no comparison. If I thought anyone had the rights to all the grief, I would have never mentioned it once. The loss of George is overwhelming for George’s family. I cannot fathom their thoughts, their pain, or their loss. But there’s no metric for this.

I want to say to all of my readers, friends, and family: I am not alone. I am not the only one with pain. I find solace in the voices crying out. I want to cry out back:

You aren’t alone, and your feelings are perfectly valid.

It’s okay to be hurt. It’s okay to feel lost. It’s okay to not know what to do, or what to say. We don’t know either. This is a total nightmare for everyone. Feel your feelings, be honest with yourself, and be honest with those you love. Your feelings are valid. And I realize as I type this that my feelings are valid too.

I’m going to go cry in my room, hiding from my kids while my snot and tears soak into my wife’s shirt. This sucks.

My Best Friend Just Died

Dispair Dude Death

I don’ t even know where to begin. At therapy yesterday, I received a message from George‘s mother, asking that I swing by and check on him. This isn’t an unusual request. He’s long since accepted that I would just show up sometimes to make sure he was okay. My therapist’s office was about, I dunno, a block and a half from his house, so I said “sure” and went over.

I knocked on the door. I called into his (slightly open) window. I got no answer. I knocked for another few minutes, and finally realized that knocking wasn’t going to do it. His car was there. His roommates’ cars weren’t. I really wanted to just go in. But, of course, there are trespassing laws and stuff, and I’m not on a come-on-in basis with his roommates. So, I did the only rational (and most responsible) decision possible. I called the police, and requested a wellness check.

In case you don’t know, a wellness check is when an officer (or a few of them) go into a person’s home without a warrant because of justifiable belief that the person who should invite them in, well, can’t. I answered a bunch of questions about when he had been seen last, about his recent personal and professional life, and then they went in. It turns out, one of the roommates was home, but didn’t hear me knocking over his video games. 100% understandable, and I am not being sarcastic, that’s a thing, and it’s totally valid. #HermitLife

The roommate invited us in. The officers knocked on George’s bedroom door, called out, etc. No answer. They went in, saw him in bed, and called out some more. I looked in. He looked like he was sleeping. He was laying in his bed, looking just like he always does when he’s asleep. Except he wasn’t breathing.

The officers had the roommate and me leave the house, and we talked with a lot of officers and a detective, and stuff happened. They were kind, professional, and were seriously the nicest folks on the planet. I think I may bake them cookies, and that’s not a joke.

An officer drove me to George’s parents’ home, and I had the saddest honor of my life. I broke the news to them in person. For the rest…. Well, I’m going to leave that alone. Not my story to tell.

What I came here to say is this: Call you mother. Tell her you love her. I am going to today, and that’s not something I normally do, for a variety of reasons. *cough, cough* Call your friends. George was not an old guy. He was not even middle-aged. He just died. Don’t assume everyone knows you love them. Tell them, goddammit.

Goodbye George. I wipe a tear from my eyes as I type this, but I love you, and always will.

My Friend is Dying

You would think, with a name like Terminally Intelligent, that I would talk about death more. Well, I try my damnedest not to. It’s depressing, and hard for people to hear about. Not to mention the triggers that death can bring up for some people. On that note: Trigger Warning!

I have an acquaintance who is dying. Those who know him already know, so I’m not really spilling the beans on that. I’m here to tell you something else. Those of you who don’t like what I have to say here can EAT SHIT. I really mean it. I’ve already been passive-aggressively told that I’m “not doing enough” by two people, and it’s HORSE SHIT. I know some of you will judge me harshly, and I couldn’t care less. If you still feel the need to judge me after reading this post, then tell me so, and don’t be surprised if I never talk to you again. I don’t need to know someone as ignorant as you anyway.

This man, we will call him Luke, is an inspiration. He has been a friend to me for two years now. He is always willing to help people, and has given me help many times. I have taken time out to talk to him every chance I get, and I’ve taken the opportunity to help him more than once, usually in small, but significant ways. Luke means a lot to me. He was my first fencing teacher, and my first friend in the SCA. But right now, he is dying. He has cancer, and it’s very advanced. I know he won’t live very long. It’s killing him, but I feel like it’s killing me as well.

Here’s the rub. He’s not always been popular. He’s awkward, and shy. He doesn’t respond well to social cues. People have maligned him through ignorance and inconsideration as long as I’ve known him. People who have never shown more than cursory friendliness are pouring out to show him solidarity now. And some of them are parading it around like they’ve won a fucking prize. I may not have been the best friend to him, but I’ve been grateful for his role in my life, and I made sure he knew it. I hope I mean half as much to him as he means to me.

But I can’t visit him. I just can’t. It makes me physically ill to think about him, and I’ve already thrown up twice out of guilt. He is a great man, with few friends. And he is dying a slow, painful, lonely death. There’s nothing I can do about that. Every time I try to work up the energy to visit, I have a panic attack. I’ve not even been able to ask Jenny about it.

Someone once told me about the “dumping circles” rule. Every illness is a series of concentric circles. In the center circle is the sick person. Next circle out is that person’s spouse and underage children. Next circle is their adult children/parents. Next circle is extended family, and close friends. Everyone else is outside of the circles. Even close-ish friends. If you don’t consider this person among your 5 closest friends, you don’t get into a circle. Therefore, I am not in a circle.

The rule is that you never “dump in.” You never say “that’s awful!” or “I don’t know if I can take this” to someone in a circle smaller than yours. Anyone can dump out. Nobody ever gets to dump in. You only show support and love to the sick person and anyone in a smaller circle than you. The sick person is allowed to wallow, and be dramatic. Their job here sucks. But the people who are currently guilting other people? They aren’t in a circle. They think they are, but they aren’t. And people outside the circles get to keep their mouths shut.

I feel guilty, because I’m not being there for someone who needs me. I feel like I’m being judged by our mutual acquaintances, and I probably will be after this post. I know I’m not doing enough, but I can’t do more. If I went to his house, I’d throw up on the rug, cry so much it hurt him to watch, and leave. That’s called dumping in. It’s too much, and I’m too weak. At least two people have said “If I can do it, you can do it.” That’s complete crap, and that’s all there is to it.

I have a rule, and I hope it has shown itself through my blog over time: NEVER compare your experience to someone else’s. Your feelings are valid. Period. It doesn’t matter if someone has it better or worse than you. It doesn’t matter if you think you are in the most pain anyone has ever suffered. Your experience is your own, and how other people react to the world should not be measured on your scale. EVER!

If I judged people by my metric, I would laugh in the faces of most people’s pain. I would be a terrible, hateful, snide son-of-a-bitch. Say someone has a minor anxiety issue, let’s say, concerning cats. They are afraid of cats, and sometimes have panic attacks around cats. I would look at that person’s anxiety, and laugh them out of the room for complaining. I have a friend (Let’s say, Bill?) who has PTSD because of an isolated domestic abuse incident. If I were so crude as to put him on a scale comparing him to my PTSD, he would register, but not very highly. The only people I personally know who register highly are: A combat veteran who lost a leg, and a hand in Iraq, after dragging his friend out of enemy fire, only to realize that friend was dead, and my brothers, who also went through some of the most insane fucking bullshit any human being can survive.

It just doesn’t work. Everyone has their own experience, and their experience is just as valid as anyone else’s. I mean it when I say this. My friend Bill’s PTSD flashbacks, and inappropriate reactions to physical contact rule his intimate life, and limit his ability to have friends. His PTSD is no less real than mine.

My point is this: Something may be hard for you, and that sucks. But it doesn’t make it less hard for someone else. Think before you guilt people over what they aren’t doing. I’m one of the few people who have the rare-as-fuck ability to put this shit on display for everyone to read. I can’t be the only one who can’t visit Luke because of my inability to cope. I’m just the only one who doesn’t care if you hate me for admitting it.

Questions? Comments? Share below, I really want to know. Carry on, dear reader, and remember Luke. I know I will.

So There’s This Thing About Parents

A friend of Jenny’s, named Anne, asked on our Facebook page if I would write about my parents. She was referring to my “natural” parents, of course. You know, those bastards that birthed me.

You see, my parents were capitol-D-Dicks. Yep, I spelled that out, it wasn’t even ironic, I just wanted to make sure you got it, and didn’t think it was a God damned clerical error. Anyway. They were everything negative you could find in a parent.

My father conceived three children with my mother. Then, while she was still pregnant with the third, he bailed. Or, specifically, he didn’t. Make bail, that is. He got arrested for draining oil out of a power transformer, with the goal of stealing copper from it. So, from then on out, my  mother set her lusty, power hungry, stupid eyes on another man.

I’ll go into my mother’s never ending poor life choices another time. The point is, I never really knew my father. Like, at all. When I went to his funeral, I realized every person in the room knew him better than I did, and I told them that. I’ll never get the chance to know him any better, and I mostly don’t care to.

My mother was the Queen Whore of Sheba, and everyone knew it. She chose her men and drugs over the happiness, health, and safety of her children. We got taken by the State at one point, that’s how bad it was. Oh, and there were another six years of me lying to the State, in the attempt to keep my family together.

That’s a recurring theme. My twin and I did everything we could to keep our family intact, because we loved our brothers, and we didn’t want to lose them. I ended up lying to the police, our teachers, principals, social workers, you name it. We thought being together was more important than being safe.

That was the biggest lie my family ever told me. Now, don’t get me wrong. Family is one of the most important things in the world. But you know what’s more important? Making sure they don’t starve. Making sure your spouse doesn’t break their bones, and degrade them to the point that they consider killing themselves because they just aren’t good enough. Safety, folks. The safety of your children, your siblings, your spouse. You name it. Safety is more important than happiness any God damned day.

You know what the sick part is? I still want a relationship with my mother. I want her to tell me the truth, so I can finally forgive her. I want her to apologize, and mean it, so that I can finally bring her back into my life. I want my father to be alive, so I can talk to him one more time, and tell him that I don’t hate him, and that he isn’t the worst person in the world. I never told him that he was, but I know he thought those things.

The sick part is, I want them to be happy. I want them to be safe. I want them to be successful. I want to be proud of them. Instead, I cry over the things I never had, while I type up this pain for you all to read. I pray for them. I pray that my mother will understand why she’s not invited to my wedding next summer. I want her to forgive me for not letting her see my children. I want her to come home.

I’ll never have that mother. I’ll never know that father. I will always be patching the holes with my new family, but also be aching for them to waltz back into my life. I would literally kill someone to have my mother be even one step closer to sanity. I would kill myself if I knew it would send my father to Heaven.

There are reasons I take my meds. There are reasons I depend so heavily on my new family. I can never have a real childhood. I can never have my mother be real. I can never have my father. I would say I could never have him back, but I never had him in the first place.

Now, I have a Dad. I have my twin brother. I have Jenny. I have two beautiful children. I have a grandmother who never judged me, and will always support me. I have people I would kill to save. I have people who I would kill myself to save. I have a family worth having. I have a family worth keeping.

But part of me would throw it all away for five minutes in the arms of my parents, safe, warm, and happy. A big part. If I weren’t medicated, I’d probably be living with my mother again. Or I’d be dead, because of the fear of that prospect.

A part of me is already dead, but I don’t miss it. Because it died so, so long ago.

Carry on, dear reader.

My father, and a pair of his women. Either of them could have been my mother, but they weren't. I don't know if that's a good thing, or a terrible one.

My father, and a pair of his women. Either of them could have been my mother, but they weren’t. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, or a terrible one.

On the off hand that your family isn’t as insane, and clinically toxic as my parents were. Try this on for size: