To grieve or not to grieve

By Katharine Swan On Friday, May 25, 2007 At 12:30 AM

Shortly after I got up today (Thursday), I learned that my step-grandmother had died early this morning. Although the situation is unique -- as I'll explain momentarily -- I still was tied up all day because of it, and accomplished pretty much nothing today.

Interestingly, I'm having a hard time explaining this. Three or four times, I've erased everything I'd written and started over again. I don't know why this is so hard. Like I said, the situation is unique -- "unique" meaning that I was never very close to Virginia. When my dad told me that my uncle (my mother's brother) had called to say that Virginia had passed away, I thought curiously, Am I going to cry? A quick moment of introspection told me that no, I wasn't anywhere close to tears. In fact, I felt nothing more than surprise: We had always thought Virginia was in better health than my grandfather. In fact, my mom just got back from visiting less than a week ago, and Virginia seemed fine.

It's trying to tell the full story that's getting to me, I think. As difficult as Virginia was, I just can't bring myself to publish the extent of it -- she's gone now, after all, and can't hurt our family any longer. Suffice it to say that Virginia was not a very nice person. When she first came into the family, creating bad blood between her and her new husband's kids from the get-go, we thought her antagonism was directed at us; over the years, though, we've realized that she was like that toward everyone.

Not all of my experiences of Virginia were bad, though. She was nice to my sister and I when I first met her (I was 11). For a while there she was the one reminding my grandfather of family members' birthdays. And in the last five years, she and I had started corresponding intermittently by snail mail. (Never mind that she managed to criticize my career choice and my marriage to my mom just five days ago.)

With all of this in mind, I was rather surprised when my mom started crying at lunch today. (They invited me to lunch last night, since Michael is still out of town.) I decided to spend the rest of the day with my family... Which is why, of course, I didn't get anything done.

It's funny how something can affect you and not affect you all at the same time. Several times while writing -- or trying to write -- this post, I've felt like I might cry... But of course I haven't. Yet at the same time, Virginia's death was monumental enough to hijack my to-do list and occupy my thoughts. The truth is, I almost can't believe she's not there anymore -- she seems so real in my thoughts.

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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