Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

Public vs Private Grief


On the way to Joshua Tree this past weekend I told the two other people in the vehicle (a male/female couple) about this blog. Both were old friends of my late husband Kaz. Both were very helpful to us when he was sick. And both have lost one parent to illness, so they know about loss and grief. Perhaps that’s why I felt safe mentioning the blog.

Though I’m gradually becoming bolder about it, I’m still a little shy about the blog. Shy when it comes to people I know. I think because this is where I still talk about my grief, about Kaz, and our time together. It feels like most of our friends and family have moved on, not in a bad way – that’s what you’re supposed to do – but in a way that makes me feel guilty about “going there” around them. I often get the urge to bring him up with people who knew him, but then think to myself, Why go back? Why dredge up old memories and make everyone feel bad? What’s the point?

There have been times when I couldn’t help but get emotional, like at the Clutch show a few weeks ago. There was another moment back in February, before returning to L.A. from Vermont, when I was having drinks in Brooklyn with Kaz’s best friend and my brother-in-law. The former was explaining to the latter how he and Kaz had met and become friends. As he told the story, which I had heard before, I started silently crying. I’m not sure my brother-in-law noticed but the best friend did. After a few minutes, I excused myself to the freezing outside in order to regain my composure. I felt guilty for crying in front of him, for ruining the moment by making it sad instead of joyful.

I wish it were easier to show emotions and talk about grief, death and the ones we’ve lost. But I’m also not sure it’s right to burden people with my emotions. I sense that people don’t want to talk about these things, don’t want to dwell or be reminded of their own hurt. I feel both responsible towards them and still responsible to Kaz for putting up a good front, as it were.

I felt this much stronger in the first few months after he died, like it was my duty to publicly represent him and us with dignity and poise. We had just recently been married so the feeling of US and this new role of both ‘wife’ and ‘widow’ brought up all kinds of associations. Images of Jackie Kennedy and Coretta Scott King flashed in my mind’s eye and I told myself that, given a choice, he would prefer me to be more like them and less like the widow who throws herself onto the casket as it’s lowered into the ground.

I wasn’t perfect. I did have moments. But for the most part I handled myself with an almost stoic resolve, which of course made people think I was much stronger and more together than I actually was.

Nowadays, it’s more difficult to keep that up, or perhaps I care less about keeping it up. So, when I get emotional in front of certain friends it’s like breaking precedent. And perhaps even more stange because it’s been almost two years.

This period in particular, between March 24th (the day he had the seizures) and May 3rd (the day he died) are the toughest of the year. Last year it felt like I was re-living every painful day of those 6 weeks. This year the painful memories aren’t quite as vivid. But I’m missing him something terrible. And trying not to feel guilty about divulging that even here, lest I bring you down as well (which is not my intention).

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

162 thoughts on “Public vs Private Grief

  1. Pingback: Take a Journey to Joshua Tree | Riding Bitch

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  3. I relate so much to this post and share similar thoughts and feelings about the waves of grief that unexpectedly present themselves now and then. Memories bring both peace and pain, its a double edged sword, and, as you and others have said, inescapable aspects of life. The silent tears that make one turn away to quietly grieve, I expect they will keep happening. I try, as you, to accept these waves and trust the process.
    Thanks for your honest and sensitive post. The personal becomes universal.

  4. Niva—I SO relate to this post! I write a lot about grief myself. In fact, I’m writing a memoir on it. It’s such a strange/difficult thing to navigate especially when most people are so uncomfortable with it. No one knows what to do. I’m sure sometimes friends are afraid to mention your husband to you, because they think you will become overwhelmed when in fact you would welcome the sharing of a memory. I love reading things that articulate emotions, circumstances, etc. that we all feel from time to time but rarely articulate. Powerful stuff. It’s very freeing to see it in print. Keep going.

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    • Thank you! Yes, I would suggest starting with WordPress. That’s what I did and I had NO idea what I was doing when I started. Also, you can learn a lot from watching Amanda Blum’s webinars at wordpress.tv. Good luck!

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