Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Greek Mythology: Retribution

Journal entry 8

In ancient Greek mythology, you were supposed to die with your spouse. It feels like I did. 
Clytemnestra didn’t kill herself when her husband Tantalus died because she had plans of revenge for those who killed him. I understand her feeling. It’s a natural response to want to hurt those who have hurt you. It solves nothing, of course, because then the family of the one you killed now wants to kill you, and so the cycle of sorrow continues and grows stronger. But I still feel that urge.

I want to hurt someone and punish them for Evelyn’s death. Yet no one caused her death. There is no one to blame that I can see. It falls under the general category of "It happened," where so much gets tossed.

So my anger turns against Life. I do not want to trust it anymore. I doubt that Life cares one way or the other, and I doubt that anything I do will affect it. There is no way to get retribution against it. Whatever I do will affect only me, so I'm back to square one. With my anger. Stewing.
There is a lesson here somewhere.  
I can't change what has happened. I can't force anyone or anything to undo what was done. But I can choose what happens now. I am too young to think of not going on, but what do I have left to live for? Yet the feeling is there. It is there.
More than this, I have to choose because no one else will. These are life-changing decisions, although I don't have to decide them within the first month, or even within the first six. Can I stand living in a house filled with my wife's memories? Do I want to get a new job if the only reason I kept it was for our health insurance? Do I move to cabin in the Sierra Nevada and live there for the rest of my life? 
Nothing holds me here, and I owe life nothing. Whatever choices I make, I need to choose wisely and not strike out blindly. As much as I don't like life right now, it may bring good surprises along the way. 

But I have to take the first steps. Nothing changes if I just sit here and wish that things were different.


  1. I read most of your blog entries. This post was a surprise because your anger and frustration at being unable to find someone to revenge for the wife's death are exactly what I feel for my wife's death. I do not get comfort from people who have their spouses alive and just throw words of superficial or fake empathy at me. But I get a real comfort from your words because you seem to speak in the same place I was and will be. Thank you for sharing your experiences.


    P.S. I lost my wife in May 2012 after 3 year fight against Glioblastoma, a horrible brain cancer.

  2. It's surprising how anger keeps returning during grief, especially when someone has died young and the death seems wrong. And as much as I wanted someone to blame for her death, as much as I was angry at the forces of the universe, the only thing I cared about was that she was gone. Revenge would have been a detour on the journey of recovery, not a solution. Slowly, as I was able to let go of my anger, I began to find acceptance.