Thursday, April 18, 2013


Today I was called, in a very gentle way, "callous." It's not the first time I've heard this. The funny thing is, and I so deeply hate to admit this, but if you know me well then you know that I am actually the opposite of callous. I can become so easily enveloped in the grief of others I try to avoid situations that may result in high emotion. I stopped practicing psychotherapy for this reason and have moved back into business, a place I am so very comfortable. My best and most reliable defense mechanism has always been my "callousness." It may not work for other people and I've seen the looks  when I make a decision that others perceive as cold and uncaring, but it helps preserve me. I don't know how else to explain it.

This all came up because I am off to a funeral next week. I don't do funerals. If there is any place where you are guaranteed to experience high emotion, it's in a room full of folks who are mourning  someone they love. So today I was processing this with my friend and colleague and somehow it came up that I haven't been to a funeral since my tennis coach's young children were killed in a car accident. I was seventeen at the time. I had a lot of capacity to understand what was happening but not enough. Who has enough capacity to understand something like that. That was 16 years ago. I have missed every funeral since, always with good reason (I tell myself), but not really, not when it comes to relationships and honoring the good people who have passed on. It's not that I don't mourn. I do. I just prefer to do it privately.

I have a family now. My partner has requested that I attend his grandmother's funeral and of course I will go and I'm so happy to get to see his family. The anxiety about the funeral is rather formidable though so it's an interesting thing to work through. I can't help but wonder if attending the funeral of a 94-year-old woman who has brought us all together to celebrate her full and long life will help shift the idea of grief and mourning for me. It's good practice. This is not for or about me. I am there to watch and support and love and dance and drink beer (and chase Ellis since her ear surgery fixed her balance so perfectly).

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