Managing Grief

My grandfather passed away last week. I was in a state of shock for a few days; perhaps, I still am. I have not truly understood yet what it means that he is gone. I am trying to cope, which means I am coping in a somewhat broken way.

When I heard the news, I left work early and came home and ate and ate and ate. Then, I went shopping. I needed to be alone and needed something to fill this sudden void. I thought something was bound to make me feel better if I kept using food or things to occupy my mind.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work. My coping with food did not fill the void and only increased my anxiety about my weight, which was also exacerbated by the fact that I had to buy larger clothes than the last time I went shopping. Combine that with the thoughts that I missed out on time with my grandfather and I was distraught.

I saw my grandfather about six days before he passed. I remember thinking he looked thin and frail, but I would never have said that to him. When asked how he was, he argued that he was fine, but had some bad days here and there. He was eager to show me his finger that he had cut open with a saw; he was proud of how well it was healing up.

I took him a book on West Virginia tales and stories. When he passed, I asked my aunt and father for it back. I felt like an Indian giver. I gave and wanted back. I wish I knew how much he had read and whether or not he had heard the stories before. In the book, there is a tissue marking his place at the start of the book, just a few pages in. My OCD wants to throw out the tissue, but I am keeping it there because it was something he used to mark his place.

I keep coping in my old maladaptive ways. I restrict, then binge. I want sugar and comfort food. I tell myself that this is not the way to cope, but I am at a loss. I want to talk and I want to hold it in. I said my farewells to his earthly shell and felt like it didn’t really look like him, not without his glasses and a mischievous grin. I think to myself that I never drank coffee with this man, who used to sit on the porch with me in the early mornings and look across the land and say about the rising mist and fog, “That’s groundhogs making coffee.”

The funeral is over and life is getting back to normal, but I am stuck in my pattern of restrict and binge and the urges to purge are back. I have not done that, but the fact that they are there tells me that I am struggling.

Grief is messy and I am trying to cope. I keep thinking that if I only knew more about this or that, I would be fine. But, there is no research that I can do that will soothe my emotions. So, I must keep going and mourn in my own way as I pursue a healthy life. My grandfather told me that he wanted me to be healthy and to try harder. Like my grandfather, I am stubborn and I will keep going. I am a Milam and with that fact alone, I am an outlier.

Author: Darlene Milam

So, a little bit about me. I am a coffee lover, animal lover, and book reader extraordinaire. Not really the extraordinaire part. I want to be the next great American novelist, or memoirist. I am recovering from anorexia and engaging in daily battles with managing mental illness and other physical health problems. I believe in the power of healing through writing and want to share my story so others know they are not alone. Please comment, ask questions, like, and enjoy reading.

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