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In Sigmund Freud’s seminal work, “Mourning and Melancholia,” he suggests that for mourning to be successful, the loved one must be totally relinquished.

For those who have not read his later works, Freud evolves from this thinking as well as from other assertions he made in this early work. To read “Mourning and Melancholia” is to read the first in a body of work that moves away from certain positions. Additionally, others came later and developed more of the ideas that began with Freud.

One of those ideas that evolved was Freud’s idea that for mourning to be successful, the loved one must be relinquished. Freud himself revised this idea, after his own daughter died and he realized total relinquishment was not possible. Instead, he asserted that for mourning to be successful it is not necessary for the loved one to be relinquished so much as internalized. You relinquish the relationship as it was, the physical relationship, the mutual relationship. A process of healthy mourning is, instead, to internalize the person…to work through the pain, the sorrow, the loss, and be left with an internal reference where you can go and have happy memories or, at least, non-painful ones.

Successful internalization allows the relationship to be reframed in a context that permits the bereaved to go on with pleasant memories instead of being constantly besieged by painful flashbacks of the shared past. When the grief work is complete, a new, redefined interpsychic relationship is possible that is of great benefit to the bereaved. This redefinition has occurred when “deference for reality gains the day.”
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I had a really good day today. Just feeling very even keeled and okay. I posted on Facebook that I was babysitting for my son’s dog this weekend and looking forward to it.

Then I started thinking that I was always a dog person but haven’t had a dog since Christmas 2006. We were going to get a rescue dog, or a dog in need of rescuing, right before Michael had a seizure but then, of course, there was no question about getting a dog. I’m moving back to the city after Gina graduates so it’s not really on the table.

Then I thought about our dog….he was Michael’s dog when we met….a half white Shepherd, half Samoyed big white fluffy dog named Bear. Michael was single and had gotten two dogs, brothers. He was driving truck so he named them BJ and the Bear (I think it was a TV show about trucking or something). Because they were so big and fluffy everyone thought Bear was named as such because he, um, looked like a Bear.

But as puppies BJ was a very aggressive dog and would beat up on Bear. Michael said when he got home there would be fur all over the house. So he had to give one of them away. Michael was such a tough guy I thought he would have kept BJ, the tough one, but he didn’t. He kept Bear. The sweet one.

Gina called him Puppy. When Gina was 2, Bear would put his head in her lap and she would say it was her puppy’s head. So she and I started calling him PuppyHead. Michael refused, for about 7 years, to call his masculine dog Puppy Head. Eventually he would slip and say it without thinking…like “I have to stop at the store to get PuppyHead food.” and I would say, “PuppyHead?” and he would say “I didn’t say PuppyHead.” and I would just give him a knowing smile. Sure you didn’t.
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When Michael was still walking and trying to do his own self care, but was not totally with it, he took a shower one day and opened the curtain and let the water run.

For five hours.

I noticed it when the water was leaking through the living room ceiling. After a month or so the ceiling started to buckle and I told my painter (who had done part of the upstairs) that we needed to do this ceiling.

Then Michael was in a hospital bed. In the living room (we have a double living room so his bed was on the opposite side of the buckling ceiling). We couldn’t open up the ceiling (which needed to be done) while he was there. And though it was an eyesore, I wanted him there every single day and not have that interrupted. Even for a few days.

The thought of Michael being shuffled to an alternate room, even for a little while, simply didn’t sit right with me. He was not a piece of furniture and that was his domain. I don’t know why but I simply wouldn’t hear of it when he was sick, to move him for a few days and get the ceiling repaired.

Someone told me that the thing they liked about coming to my house when Michael was sick was that he was in the center of everything, that we didn’t have him locked away somewhere in a bedroom. Not that I ever considered that for even one second.
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Felt a little sad today packing up some of Michael’s things. I take it little by slow but every few days I have to deal with something. We did so little when he was sick.

I gave the bulk of his clothing to the Vietnam Vets last week but I probably kept more than I should have. I kept some shirts that were so him (and not just the Harley shirts but some of the dress shirts he wore when we were dating). I kept his Harley leathers and his Harley rain gear. I don’t know why. I just can’t part with it yet.
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Chapter One: The Day From Hell

Michael died eleven months and one day after his seizure that started our nightmare. So the 16th was the one year anniversary and on the 17th, the one month.

On Wednesday, the one year anniversary of his seizure I stayed home and thought about life before and after the seizure. It was so different. I wrote, I read, I cried, I talked to friends. I worked some. I did all the things that I recommend to others. I tried to go to bed early but I didn’t. I was awake by 5 waiting for the limo driver to take me to the Amtrak.

I was okay in the first part of the day…the ride to the station and getting on the train.

Then sitting on the crowded train, across from a lady who was working and kept looking up and giving me an acknowledging smile, I started to lose it. I thought about Michael, just one brief thought and I was trying to suck those tears back into their ducts. The lady looked up and her smile faded and her face registered alarm. I stared straight out the window.

When I got to where I was going, I was “okay.” I was consumed by being confused as to where I needed to go, checking in and settling in for work. I put on a happy face.

I sat in the office they gave me and went to work on a brief. In a short time I was having trouble breathing. I kept working my way through that. I wrote and wrote. I read and read as the time ticked by I had the sinking feeling that I was only managing to keep away the monster that was threatening to swallow me whole.
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I am still writing Emotions II: the rest of the first day. So hard (but necessary) to relive. It feels like I’m doing the first year all over again but this time I know the outcome.

But this anniversary of the seizure has been hard. I’m traveling for work tomorrow so it will probably wait for the weekend. Tomorrow it’s time to put on my game face. Thanks to all for your thoughts in email and Facebook. I appreciate it so very very much.

When I first saw Michael shaking on the floor I was overcome with an odd sensation of not quite knowing what to do or what to feel. It was as if my spirit left my body. It was more than surreal, it was like a dream and I thought of all the bizarre dream sequences that you see in movies. That soon there would be cackling laughter and things floating by. That Michael might lift off the floor and out the window. That the room would surely spin and mad hatters and dormice would appear.

Mechanically I got on the phone with 911 and told them I had no idea what was going on. He didn’t feel well, he took Excedrin PM, he went to sleep, his stomach must have bothered him, TUMs all over the floor.

I thought that I should seem more upset when I called 911. What does a stricken spouse whose mind has not caught up with reality yet sound like? Suppose the medicine poisoned him and they would play this 911 call at my trial? Lawyers, it seems, never turn completely off. My head played reels of the emotional courtroom scene. I would never poison my hunny bunny! NEVER! as I wailed on the witness stand. Could I ever explain how good and loving and thoughtful and selfless Michael was? Could I ever convince anyone of how much I loved him and would never harm him? I had these flashes of my trial in my head.

Was I a bad wife for trying to come up with an alibi for the murder of my husband that I didn’t commit and who was still alive? Or was I just a complete and utter basketcase?
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Today is the one-year anniversary of Michael’s seizure so I’ll be doing an info post as well as a “my feelings” post. This is the info post, somewhat dry for purposes of passing on information to others going through or having gone through similar things. I will write my feelings and fill in more of the story with how I was reacting to all this in the next post.


It was a while between Michael’s seizure and diagnosis and this is all that went on:

As I chronicled before the seizure in —> this post, the summer was weird. I was writing the book so I was frustrated at times, worried at other times and just needed to let it go other times.

When Michael was complaining of a headache and not feeling well on the 15th of September, I thought it was Derek’s cold and that he would be fine.

When Gina screamed the next morning, “Something is wrong with Daddy!” and I came down to see Michael on the floor, eyes wild, shaking and drooling. I was stunned, shaken. I ran to him and said “it’s okay honey, it’s okay.” and I told Gina to call 911.
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I was on 9th Avenue in New York City today and I have no idea why, but the idea of Michael being dead, actually dead, hit me like a pile of bricks and my knees physically buckled. People looked at me but, being New York City, no one seemed too concerned.

I thought about our relationship and what I thought about it was that I never thought about it. If I was out (as I was today) and about, I just enjoyed wherever I was knowing that Michael was enjoying whatever he was doing. We used to have a dictate, “If you can’t do it in front of me, you shouldn’t be doing it.” And, except for him sneaking smoking which I caught him at ALL the time so I guess it counts for doing in front of me, we just adhered to that principle.

It came about early in our marriage (I think we were married or just about ready to be) when an old trucker buddy of his sent him internet porn (couldn’t believe Michael was on the internet so he sends porn…nice). And I blew up and said it was disgusting and it was not to be in my house and if this was the sort of thing he wanted to do well then he better find somewhere else to live.

The very same day an ex-boyfriend contacted me and I sent a few emails back and forth mostly to let him know I was attached, but to be honest there were some nyah nyah nyahs I wanted to get in there and I was pissed at Michael…hence the “back and forth” emails.
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The entire year that Michael was sick I missed the well Michael. I missed the person with so much energy and so much life. The guy who came home and said the exact same thing at the same time every day. He would get into the basement and on the bottom step he would yell up, “Hello!” Gina and I could time it and do “Hello!” in unison it was so dependable. If I was upstairs he would say, “Hello Dear-o, what’s going on?” Then he would say, “Wait. I have to take a shower.” and off he’d go. It was the same thing every single day.

When he was sick I missed the guy that the rest of the family depended on to be there. Pick me up here, drive me there, help me with this, work your mechanical magic on that. He was always there, cheerful and dependable and even when he complained it was a winky complaining. Sometimes I would say, “I don’t know why you’re putting up a fuss, we both know you’re going to do it.” And he would roll his eyes.

I missed the guy who thought my snarkiness was hilarious. When we first met we were at a party and I said, “Doesn’t this make you want to stick hot irons in your eyes?” and he almost spit his drink all over. He said, “Most people would be politely nice about the whole thing.” Not me. And he never stopped loving that. If I was on the phone with a friend having a relationship issue and I would say things like, “Oh I’d just bounce him right down the stairs.” I would hear Michael in the background laughing and repeating what I said. “Right down the stairs…”
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