Friday, March 13, 2015

Compound Grief

I know that I keep using too many of the same photos.  I just don't have the time or energy to search around for other ones right now.
These two people are the ones we lost most recently - my sister Kim and my husband's Aunt Dee Dee.  I never know whether I'm supposed to say my Aunt Dee Dee or just call her his aunt.  I tried Googling it once, and came up with the wrong results to answer my question.
One thing I've noticed in all of these recent years, with several more of the important people we love being gone is that each loss seems to make the previous ones hurt even more.  I've been calling it compound grief when talking with my husband about it.  I don't even know if that's a term that anyone uses, but it's just what I've been saying.
I guess how I'm feeling is that with each loss, there is one less person who loves and cares about us, and who cares about the same people that we miss.  It seems to keep dwindling down to a few of us who are really sad about all of those who are gone.
I don't even feel like I'm explaining this correctly.  Perhaps a lot of my pain and my husband's is because four of the losses we've experienced have been very important people, and three of those were people who lived in this house.  We all had our separate areas to live in, but could all visit and talk and care about each other, which was wonderful.
I know it's strange to many people, in this day and age, to stay at home with the older folks and live together.  The fact is, we never could afford to leave, but also we didn't want to.  We loved these people.  Dean's mom never wanted us to leave - ever - she told us that.  She wanted us all to stay together, and we all felt the same way.  Sure, we all could've used more room, but being together meant more to us.  So, even if we would've had the money to move ourselves, my husband and I always said that we wouldn't move unless we had enough money to move all of us to a larger place (or attached condos or something).
Getting back to the compound grief concept - each loss we experienced was terrible, but there were still people who we did things with and took care of, in this house.  When Dean's dad, Ray, passed away, we focused on doing things with and for his wife Milly (lots of gifts and cards, cooking and baking for her, going out to dinner, etc.).  We had something to do - care for her, and knew she was here caring about us and our pain, too.
When Milly passed away, we focused more attention on her sister Dee Dee and doing things for her.  When my sister Kim passed away, Dee Dee was here to comfort and console us.  We were still together, some of us.
Of course, the most important person in my life (my husband) is still here, and I am supremely grateful for that.  I still have my mom and my sister Juli and other loved ones, which I am also very grateful for. 
When my husband had his heart attack and heart surgery and I had some time at home (when I wasn't at the hospital), no one was here for me at home, other than the cats.  Mom and Juli and people on Dean's side of the family were supportive, but no one was here in this house with me, talking with me and comforting me, so it was hard.
I guess, in a way, that I will be glad to leave this house someday, when we can afford to go someplace else.  Too many memories are here.  People's things are all over, because we don't have the emotional or physical strength to clean them out.  We are in Dee Dee's old place, and almost all of her things are still here.  It all feels so strange, all of them being gone.  We just feel constant, daily emotional pain - not that I think it will lessen much when we move anyway.
I know this might be sounding too personal, too much like a journal entry and not a blog, but I'm still hoping that it will help others who are grieving, and make some difference to anyone who can relate to any of these posts.  I know I could just be writing all of this in a simple journal and keep it all to myself, but if it helps even one person, then it's worth putting it out here.  I know that sounds like such a cliché, but that's how I feel.
If you yourself are experiencing any type of grief, I wish you comfort and peace.