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Apr 23 2012

Googling Through Grief

Right clicks feel like an access to all of the answers to all of the questions ever asked in the history of mankind.  It is much like holding your finger out as a child pretending it is a wand and shouting abracadabra to make something appear. In this modern day, you conjure up in your mind what it is you desire to find or have or know and then with a movement of this very same finger, presto! There you have it. It’s so simple.

I have spent countless hours Googling on the search engine, Google.com. It usually starts out with some strange symptom I am having. I wake up in the morning and notice a slight ache in the bottom part of my leg, almost at the ankle. I shrug it off and make my way to the kitchen to turn the kettle on. By the time I’ve made my coffee, I am curious as to why my ankle area is hurting each time I pivot my foot. Hmmm! That’s strange! I stop in mid step. I move my foot from side to side. Nope!  It doesn’t seem that bad at all. Coffee in hand, I head into the family room to find my slippers. I slide them on and Ouch!!! There it is again. That’s odd. I never have a sore ankle. I think about what I could have possibly done to this joint and mull over the things I did yesterday. I conclude that it’s most likely from working in the garden.Yes, I am certain of it. Then I wonder if it’s a muscle strain or a tendon, or a sprain or arthritis or some type of systemic disease. Long story short I sprint or should I say limp to the computer. What harm could there be in researching on Google. I click the links to a few medical self diagnosis sites from the drop down menu in my list of favourites. Before I know it, I have found some rare disorder  and the prognosis isn’t good. I am devastated until I read something specific like it’s origin is from digesting a plant only found in the deepest part of a jungle in a place I have never heard of. I am relieved and my ankle feels better already. My little dog comes over to sit at my feet and rests his head  in his usual spot, on the curve of my ankle, in the exact place where I have the tenderness. Aha!! I did spend the evening reclining for a long period of time with him resting on me in this way. Whew!

With the help of my trusted guide, Google, I have searched  my way through projects and home improvement, financial planning and life changes. I have Googled through medical questions and scientific questions, through gardening and most recently, I Googled my way through grief.

It started out simply enough. It was within the first few weeks following a period of loss. The period of time when the grief is raw and the world, to your utter amazement is just moving right along, completely oblivious to the fact that you have yet to catch your breath and internalize this most recent life event or should I say death event. You’ve been given the acceptable time limit of three days off work to manage and process this mind blowing time in your life. It’s back to business as usual and you are expected to be  in tip top form at your desk or your cash register or whatever your station is, bright, alert and smiling. How in the world can three days be enough. The real grief process hasn’t even fully kicked in yet. I was not in tip top form. I was still reeling and wondering and questioning when, on that quiet night, I tip toed out of bed while everyone was asleep and let my restless legs carry this exhausted brain into the family room. The wind was howling,my thoughts were reeling when I saw a light at the end of this dark empty room. My computer screen flashed as my modem prepared for it’s schedule scan. I walked over to the computer and paused the command. I typed into the address bar the Google address. I moved my cursor over the search box on the opening page. Search. Search. What do I want to search for? I slowly and deliberately typed in my fathers name in full. I clicked search and waited. I wanted so much to find him somewhere. He was here, with me on this earth, driving in my car and talking to me on the telephone just days before. How could he just disappear? I was certain I could find him. Irrational I know but in a way I think I was looking for traces of him. I looked for every link that held the same name. I was shocked to find that there were no great stories of him or newspaper articles or awards to honor him, no biography of him, no history. I could not understand how this man who was clearly the most famous important human being who had ever lived had not been documented or known in some way on this wide world internet. It seemed almost appalling and insulting that he was not here. I considered the rationale of my attempts to contact him knowing full well that this would not work.. What was I expecting? Was I thinking that if I typed in his name an instant message window would pop up that would say “click here to speak to our online support” or would there be a live chat? Would I then see “Hello this is your father. How can I help you today?” I imagined our dialogue would go something like this.

“Dad! What the heck? Why did you leave?”

“I don’t know what the heck happened. I was fine one minute and then Wham! I’m sorry about that?”

“Dad, I miss you and I want you to come back”

“I miss you too kiddo “

If only this could be possible.

I must admit, dreamer that I am, I have done this before; Searched for someone in this very same way after they had died. It’s always been in the first few days or weeks afterwards. I’ve never found any of them, obviously. That would probably be bizarre. I don’t think I’m unique though. I know a few people who have searched in the same way. Most often we might search for God, as if he might have a legitimate web page or a blog. Wouldn’t that be great? A live online chat every Tuesday night, where you can ask him the tough questions and get straight up advice on how to live your life. Up to the minute news updates, what his opinions are, everything from politics to gas prices to same sex marriage. He’d be the final word on everything in a just and fair way. No one could argue with it, it would be undisputed. What if he said that every single person in the world was on a path to find him from the moment of birth and that no one had a right to judge the way that they needed to take to get there. That all of us are actually in the final analysis believing in the very same thing but just calling Him/Her by a different name according to geography and culture. It’s man’s ego and his own twisted ways of thinking that dilute or obscure the message. Even an atheist has a seed of belief. Even though that belief is in a return to nothingness, it’s still a belief and it was formed by a search and the search was inspired by a nagging question. Maybe the question is the answer.What if all the small stuff didn’t matter like where you worshipped or how you worshipped. What if just the collective idea of loving and being thankful and living beautiful full lives was the point of the entire thing..  What if he said that it didn’t matter who you loved as long as you loved?  What if he said that everyone  had to share- period, no one having more than the other- equally. No hoarding allowed, ever. Imagine that!  The world has long been entrenched in this idea of the more you have the more you are. But to many, there comes a realization at some point in your life that that idea is totally false and devastating and dangerous.

What if God would finally sit and explain to you why you lost your job or your home or your lover or your marriage or your self. He might even clue you in on why you lose the ones you love the most. .

There is also another reason I would like to talk to God. In my ideal version of him, the way I think he would be, is that he would speak great truth to me but he would also let me speak mine.  He would stick around and listen to even the most uncomfortable parts. The grieving parts. The questions. He would sit and encourage me to find my answers, to follow my heart, and to teach me to let others do the same. He would regularly ask me questions of myself, to make me think, to push me forward, to get me to look inside myself more often for the reasons for any difficulties I am experiencing rather than my blaming it on something  or someone externally.

I spent hours that night and in the months that followed, seeking answers and information. I looked up the 7 steps of grieving, checking them off in my mind as I experienced them. I looked up medical references to try to understand the cause of my father’s death and to console myself that there was little that could have been done if anything. I looked up why as a 40 something year old woman, I felt like a 6 year old girl who was chasing her father down the street not wanting him to leave. I looked up family relationships and how they change and stress reduction tips. I read other peoples stories sharing their own losses. The list was long and it took months to go through. I would say almost a full year before I accepted the change in my life and once again this new woman I was becoming. I knew I was ready to move on when I returned to typing in simpler requests, like delicious meatloaf recipes and what toxic plants cause systemic disease that grow in Canada. Thanks Google, You’ve really been a friend.

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8 comments

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  1. Tim Stewart

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Connie.

  2. Sue

    I love it! You should write a book!

  3. Maureen

    You definitely need to write a book one day!!! Love it!!

  4. Jory

    your blogs always make me smile! even the sad ones.

    the internet is a wondrous thing indeed.

    its nice to learn a bit more about someone who has been around and involved with my life, especially the early years, even if im nowhere near home.

    i look forward to reading more!

    1. Constance Stewart Meloche

      I feel honoured that you would take the time to read my blog. Thanks Jory. It’s also strange talking to you as an adult living provinces away when I still remember you as that sweet, billiant, little cherubic little boy waiting in line for a drink of Koolaid as your mother and I prepared our Friday night feasts together for all of you kids. Do you remember that? I will keep writing so you feel closer to home. Thanks again, Jory.

      1. Jory

        bits and pieces. best example that comes to mind is my mom saying “get your brothers were leaving in 20 minutes” only for us to not actually leave for a few more hours.

        i still draw faces the way you showed me. lol.

        thanks for thinking of me. it gets pretty difficult sometimes being so far away. one feels detached. isolated

        its definitely weird to be a “grown up” lots of things i never thought id have to do, or that i suddenly see that, oh snap, my mom and dad were right, i HAVE to do this.

  5. Judith Giglio

    You have a wonderful natural tlent for writing. and story telling that fastly grabs you in and makes you want to read more. Those of us who are grieving a loss and attempting to find a way to a new mormal while longing for the old normal it’s a rough and road indeed. I truly hope you find your peace.

    My loss is of my husband of 35 1/2 years. ther ewill always be a part of me that is gone with him and his alone.

    1. Constance Stewart Meloche

      Thanks for the comment Judith. I am sorry for your loss. I think the only thing that helps is being able to tell your story, however disjointed or distasteful or graphic or self indulgent it may be. It’s important to tell the story even if it’s only to yourself. I started out that way with the post above. I have word documents that detail every step and stage. There are some pretty sad ones and some pretty angry ones but it’s my story. I am sure that you have a great story to tell of your love and your loss. I will think of you and remember you as being the first “stranger” to leave me such a wonderful note even during your own loss.You get it! It proves to me that we really are all connected.

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