When Grief Gets Weird

My memories have taken a turn toward the negative and I don’t know why.

“Want to put my tender heart in a blender, watch it spin round to a beautiful oblivion”

My partner died almost 11 months ago. Until very recently, my grief has followed a predictable path. We all know the 5 stages of grief and how we don’t necessarily go through them in order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I’m creative, so the way I experience each stage of grief is perhaps a bit unusual, but it is still recognizable as that stage.

I went through denial and anger before he died. After his death, it’s been bargaining and depression. I’m a writer so the bargaining takes the shape of sci-fi like stories about the regeneration that I have fleshed out to quite a degree. I figure as long as what I am doing is getting me through the day without hurting myself or others, it’s okay. Disappearing into fantasy is better than disappearing into a bottle.

During the last week or so, my mind keeps looping back to negative things about my boyfriend. He was a good man, but no person or relationship is perfect. We had our problems. I loved him deeply, but there were things about him I didn’t like. I think that is normal.

I thought the trick to a successful relationship was to find a person whose positives outweighed their negatives. Obviously, none of their negatives could be a deal-breaker for you or it would not work no matter what the positives were.

There is nothing unusual going on that would be setting these types of memories off. It is just where my mind keeps going and I do not understand.

Revisiting the Anger Stage

The closest explanation that I can come up with is that I’m revisiting the anger stage. I didn’t spend very much time in the anger stage originally because there was no acceptable target.

I’m borderline nihilist in my acceptance of bad things. Shit happens. It is just part of life and there is no grand meaning to subscribe to it.

I’m not religious, so I didn’t have an imaginary friend to blame. His cancer was one that was in no way caused by his lifestyle choices so I could not blame him. Blaming a disease made no more sense to me than blaming an imaginary friend.

So, I was angry at life for dishing out more pain, but it happens and just became a shrugging acceptance just like all the other bad shit that has visited my world over the years.

Now my mind seems determined to make me angry at him by feeding me all the negative parts of the relationship on a loop in my downtime. If I let my mind wander for a second, it goes to him and something that used to annoy me or the various relationship issues we had over the years.

My natural inclination is to push back against the negative because it is not fair to him. My mind is playing it as though it all happened together at once and as if the problems were ongoing. That is not the truth. When we had problems, we worked through them and then moved on.

The things that annoyed me were occasional. Or the few that were more than occasional, were things that I figured out a way to make peace with. For instance, the man could not estimate time to save his life (no pun intended). If he said he’d be done at work in an hour, it would be more like two and a half hours. The thing is, he had ADHD and had some executive planning issues. He was not intentionally lying about the time. He just sucked at planning how long something would actually take. Once I figured that out, I would just estimate how much time it would really take him and made plans according to that. If I had gone by what he said, I’d just be angry every damn day because he would have always been “late.” Instead, I figured out a way to accept who he was and be okay with it.

I’m having trouble focusing on the positive because when I pull up a good memory to compete with the bad ones that my mind is bringing out, I cry. I’m obviously still in the depression stage and remembering the good things that I have lost hurts. A lot. Because I can’t be in tears all day, I’m just having to let my mind run the negative memories until I figure out a way to turn them off or distract myself.

Last night it even invaded my dreams and stole my “bargaining” sci-fi fantasy. When I let my mind wander into fantasyland, it just involves bringing him back. But he lost his wife to cancer many years ago. Before we were together. In my dream last night, I had the ability to bring not only him back but her as well. My integrity forced me to do the right thing and watch them go off to resume their interrupted life together with their now-grown kids and the grandkids she never got to see. I woke up angry and crying and hurting and all I could think was “fuck you, brain.” Stop doing this shit to me. I can’t believe my subconscious took my refuge fantasy and used it against me.

Maybe this focus on the negative is just the way that my mind is trying to push me over the hump into acceptance. If so, I wish it had found a way that was less painful.

Writer. Single mother to transgender son. Still grieving the death of my partner. Lifelong fighter of depression and anxiety. M.A. in Human Behavior.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store