Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I found out some very sad news yesterday. My uncle passed away a few days ago.

We all know about the stages of grief and quite honestly, I didn't expect to go though much more than sadness at his passing. I don't mean to sound heartless or cold or anything, but we weren't all that close. Don't get me wrong, I loved him, but I didn't know him until I was 18 and I only saw him a few times (at most) every year; mainly at Christmas or Thanksgiving. We just weren't as close as we may have been had I known him since birth and grew up with him next door as my half brother and sister did.

I think that I jumped from zero to anger to acceptance, of course with sadness mixed in all over.

Sunday night I was tired. Downright, out and out, pooped. I was already in bed sailing along in dreamland when my phone rang at 10:45pm. Not wanting to fully wake up or deal with anything, I decided not to answer the phone, even though I saw it was my biological mother. I thought to myself, "I'll call her back tomorrow," thinking it was about my little brother's boot camp graduation again.

Monday morning I woke up, got dressed, and went to work, forgetting my cell phone and in turn not checking my message. Getting a feeling that I needed to know what that message said, I called my husband from work asking him to check the message on my phone. He did as I waited. That is how I found out that my uncle had died.

At first I thought I was OK. A little in shock and of course sad, but together enough, I thought, to finish my day at work. I teared up talking to my co-teacher about it, but overall I thought I was handling it and would be able to make it. However, after a little while I realized that I did actually need to come home because my mind was not on my students or what was supposed to be going on. My students need me to be on the top of my game 110% of the time so to be distracted isn't acceptable. Better to go home, deal with this, and come back fresh.

On the drive home, anger hit.

Damn him for not taking care of himself. He knew he had diabetes but he didn't lose the weight, he didn't watch what he ate, and he didn't always take his meds as he needed. He was already going blind due to the diabetes and had lost one toe completely and all feeling in both feet. Why, why, why, didn't he just take care of himself?!

Why didn't I answer the phone? Not that I could have changed anything, but why did I put myself above my gut feeling that something was wrong. I should have known that my mom wouldn't have called me that late at night unless something was going on. Why didn't I just answer the darn phone and talk to her rather than her having to leave a message for my husband to relay to me later?

And while we are on it, damn her for not trying the house phone after she didn't get ahold of me on the cell. If she would have called the house then I would have known that something was going on because she obviously really needed to get ahold of me.

All of which, I know, are irrational angers. As much as I would like to, I can't change my uncles past behaviors, and he didn't want to die I'm sure of it. Me answering the phone wouldn't have made him live. In fact, because I didn't I was able to actually get a good night's sleep before dealing with these emotions. I have no right or reason to be mad at my mom for not calling the house. She had just lost her brother, I wouldn't be thinking clearly if something had happened to my brother either.

Once I finally got home and was able to call my mom, I found out at he had actually died a day or two ago but no one knew. My Poppa was the one who found him. How horrible must that have been to find your baby boy (no matter how grown up - 49 years old) dead in his bed. My poor Granny is going though the beginnings of Alzheimer's so this has to be very upsetting for her as well with her lapses of memory that she knows she is having.

Cue the anger again. Why didn't my grandparents know he was dead before he laid in bed for a day or two? He lived with them after all! Wouldn't you notice that your son hasn't been out of his room at all? And now the rational side - Uncle was always a "hermit" even in his own house. He would stay in his room on the computer or watching TV sometimes all day long only coming out to grab food and take it back to his room. Poppa worked in the groves from sun-up to sun-down. He often wouldn't see Uncle because his "food gathering times" didn't always coincide with when Poppa was at the house. Granny, like I mentioned, is starting to have memory lapses. She may not have realized that she hadn't seen him for a while. It's possible that she thought he had been out for breakfast when in fact that was 3 days ago. The fact that it took a day or so to realize that something may be wrong is still very sad, yet understandable now that I'm over the anger part of my grief.

I've yelled and I've cried and, for now at least, I think I am doing better. Thursday is the viewing and Friday the funeral. Until then, I'll take it day by day and do the best I can.

1 comment:

forgetfulone said...

Classic examples of the stages of grief. My dad died in 2004, and I'm still not completely through all the stages. I'm sorry to hear about your uncle.