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The scheduled diary did not appear tonight, so I am posting this as a place for grieving people who want a place to gather.

Please share whatever you need to share.

Last week I happened to see the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  While the movie had many flaws, I was impressed by the way it tried to depict the complexity of the grief process.

Without spoilers, because I think people should see it, the movie is about a young boy named Oskar who is mentally challenged and/or incredibly bright (and his performance is intriguing in that I was never quite sure which one).  He grows up in a family where his parents love him and each other very much, and he is particularly attached to his father, as young boys often are.

One of the things he likes to do with his father is go on "expeditions" which are scavenger hunt puzzles his father constructs to help him develop social skills.  He has trouble talking to people, and by extension trouble relating to people.

Then his father is on the 105th floor of the WTC on 9-11.  It magnifies all the boy's fears and adjustment issues.  Not only that, the boy is engulfed with guilt from a big secret he keeps about his own actions on "the worst day".  And while Oskar is struggling through the raw early days of his grief process, he finds a key among his father's possessions.  His father's last puzzle.  He becomes obsessed with finding out what the key opens.

I promised no spoilers, but I will say for the purposes of this diary that his process of finding out what the key opens, actually opens him.  Opens his relationship with his surviving family members.  Opens his relationship with the world.  Opens his relationship with himself.

The movie is over the top in spots and manipulative.  But watching it from the perspective of the extreme lengths people will go to to deal with (or avoid facing) deep and complicated grief, I thought it was brilliant.

It showed how a grieving person will sometimes choose to hold on to very specific behaviors or talismans as an obvious (and ultimately, of course, fruitless) stand in for holding on to the person who is gone.

It dramatically portrayed how a grieving person can seek and find comfort in an all-consuming project that fills up all the free hours in the day and occupies all the free space in the mind, as if trying to fill the empty space left in a life when the most important person in it has died.

It showed how real growth happens once a person realizes that coping mechanisms are just that, coping mechanisms, with no magic power to restore the dead to life.

And it showed, rather than told, the essential truth about grief recovery, that the only way out is through, and finding a way to connect to life and connect to the living, including yourself, is the true path to healing.

The cast is incredible, with Tom Hanks and Max von Sydow and Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis and Geoffrey Wright and Zoe Caldwell and John Goodman and Stephen Henderson in cameo/supporting roles around Thomas Horn as Oskar.  The boy's performance is grating at times, but it is hard to tell whether that is about the actor, or whether the character as written is just a person who is difficult to like, which would mean his acting performance is extraordinary.  It is a challenge for any child actor to get the audience to identify with and care about a child with a difficult personality.  If the child at the core of the movie had been sweet and perfect and doe-eyed sympathetic, that would really make the movie unwatchable. His rough edges helped keep the preposterous premise grounded in reality.

I recommend this movie highly as a study in grief, although I admit I avoided watching it when it was first released.   I was at a tender place in my own grief process in 2011 and I did not think I would take it well, and I do not think I was ready to see this movie until now.

If you cry easily at movies, have a strong reaction to 9-11, and are at a vulnerable place in your own grief process, it will probably push your buttons, and perhaps you should watch it with someone you trust.

Welcome, fellow travelers on the grief journey
and a special welcome to anyone new to The Grieving Room.
We meet every Monday evening.
Whether your loss is recent, or many years ago;
whether you've lost a person, or a pet;
or even if the person you're "mourning" is still alive,
("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time),
you can come to this diary and say whatever you need to say.
We can't solve each other's problems,
but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.

Unlike a private journal
here, you know: your words are read by people who
have been through their own hell.

There's no need to pretty it up or tone it down..

It just is.

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Comment Preferences

  •  please share whatever you need to share (28+ / 0-)

    even if it is not a direct response to the diary.

    TGR is a grieving Open Thread.

    If you have a grief anniversary or other significant date coming up, and would like to write a diary for a particular week, please post a comment in the diary asking for the date you want, and/or send me a kosmail, and/or send an email to TrueBlueMajority AT gmail DOT com.

    Right now August 26 is the only date that is taken (by gofigure) and all other dates are available.

    The Grieving Room is open for discussion.

    What is on your mind and heart tonight?

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 07:01:24 PM PDT

  •  So I had to go to a funeral for a former clients (15+ / 0-)

    baby this week.  At the same cemetery where another friend of mine's baby lies. That friend died three years ago next August leaving behind four young children including a 5 month old, and my own baby was buried on July 5th 8 years ago. A 51 year old single father cousin just died leaving his 3 young children this month. It is all just one big giant trigger this month and has me more melancholy than I have been in a while.  I think my getting a bad lung infection was just the pain and stress overwhelming me this week.  I have been at this grieving thing long enough to know the fog will lift and the time for it to return is longer and longer apart, thank God, but I do weary of unexpectedly getting laid low on a regular basis.  I haven't found a key in all my "grief work" that ever will make that NOT happen.   Gonna go smell some basil (my safe smell during my EMDR therapy sessions after my daughter died) and see if that helps.

    •  so many triggers (5+ / 0-)

      i honestly have no idea what young children do when they grieve.  they are barely able to process their reactions to life in general and grief is such a multi-layered experience.

      the summer is full of triggers and bad anniversaries for you.  it is not surprising that your body responds to the stress.

      i love the idea of having a safe smell.  I think I will investigate that for myself.  I will probably try honeysuckle first.

      {{{{{{{{{prgsvmama26}}}}}}}}}

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:04:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  TBM (3+ / 0-)

        This was used in conjunction with my EMDR sessions. When we were processing, if it became overwhelming you were supposed to have a picture or item or smell that was safe and comforting that you could look at or smell until there was a shift and it felt safe to continue.  I am not sure if just doing it without the EMDR context would help or not.

        •  i was briefly in trauma therapy (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kit RMP, Randomfactor, prgsvmama26

          where one of the centering exercises (bouncing yourself out of the trauma recollection back into the present where the trauma is no longer happening) involved becoming attuned to sounds and sights and smells in the room with you.

          and for a while I carried around an almost empty bottle of my favorite perfume to use as a smell focus.

          but I never thought of taking pleasant smell memories of the past and using those.  they say that smell evokes the strongest and most immediate memories.

          i used to walk past a large honeysuckle bush on my way to school during the happiest period of my childhood.  that smell is still a comfort

          Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
          Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 09:06:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  For a placeholder (13+ / 0-)

    ...this is an incredibly good diary.  Thank you.

    Another movie I probably can't watch, though.  Like "Up."

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 07:48:44 PM PDT

    •  i just saw the movie on TV a few days ago (5+ / 0-)

      and had been thinking about it a lot ever since then.  I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to write about it for TGR, and when the opportunity presented itself tonight I thought it might be cathartic for me to write it right away.

      though no one is seeing it here I am sending it to a few friends who are walking my grief journey with me.

      Up was another movie I avoided until recently.  Maybe I should put together a grief film series?

      UP is Pixar at its classic best.  A five star movie that will please kids at their level and move adults at their level.  A whole box of kleenex were not enough to get me through UP, but I strongly recommend it.  Maybe the next time I need a placeholder diary I will write about UP.

      peace be with you, Randomfactor.  thanks for stopping in tonight.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 10:12:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same. (5+ / 0-)

      I tried watching a little bit of Up once......and then had to turn the channel.  I'm with you, I just can't do it.

      Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead -

      by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 12:41:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My Experience With 9/11. (7+ / 0-)

    As a Celtic Trad player, the most-requested song for me to play is "Amazing Grace." Simultaneously it is also the most-requested song that I please must not play. For a long time those no-play requests were dominated by people with connections to the victims.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 22, 2013 at 08:57:14 PM PDT

  •  My father died on July 19 (7+ / 0-)

    eight years ago.

    Last week, I had dental work done -- just the beginning of cleaning up a decade or more of neglect due to lack of money.  My gums are bad -- so bad that an autoimmune disease is suspected.  I am living with inflammation that is affecting my general health.  And on Thursday, one quarter of my mouth was deep cleaned.  

    That night, I woke at 1:30 am with the worst migraine.  I was sick for two days.

    And I didn't think, until Sunday, that the pain began on the anniversary of Daddy's death.

    I thought about how grief gets laid down in the body.  I think I may have captured grief in my mouth.  His death, my mother's -- and everything that went before their deaths -- and after.  We put these feelings in our bodies -- and I think some of mine are calcified in an unhealthy way.

    I look forward to releasing that physical grief and remembering all the love -- which is all that really matters in the long run.

    •  grief laid down in the body (4+ / 0-)

      the body remembering anniversaries before the mind registers them--that's happened to me too

      and maybe old pain brings forth remembered pain.

      may you find release and relief.

      {{{{{Sara R}}}}}

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 04:14:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  July 19 would have been my Husbands 51 birthday (4+ / 0-)

      First one in 31 years I did not get to spend spoiling Him
      and making him feel special and loved.  Was a very hard weekend for me... Spent most of it alone, crying and remembering every wonderful thing I lost when I lost him.

      "You've got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and a humorist to stay one" - Will Rogers

      by KnotIookin on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 07:38:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the first birthday is very very difficult (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kit RMP, Randomfactor, KnotIookin

        but you made it through, KnotIookin.  birthdays are a natural time to think about why you love someone.

        if i had a magic answer for you i would have given it the very first time you showed up here with your very raw grief pouring out of every word.

        but i do fervently hope that some of the energy you spent making him feeling special and loved gets directed toward yourself someday ♥

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 08:44:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Difference between widower's grief (6+ / 0-)

    at or near the center of a story,
    and using it as a back story.

    In Up,
    the widower's grief
    is very near the center of the story.

    In Monk,
    and
    Good Will Hunting,
    and
    The Mentalist,
    and
    Endgame,
    the widower's grief
    is the back story,
    giving the viewer a serious side
    to the main character,
    even the clownish Mr. Monk.

    I truly love all those stories,
    since my life is like that of Monk,
    or the Mentalist,
    or the old widower
    dealing with the young genius,
    Will Hunting.

    But I don't need to watch Up.

    My current adventures
    are with my current wife, Tonia,
    not alone,
    in honor of my deceased wife, Pam.

    Bringing a child into the world at this point in history is a crime, the crime of child endangerment.

    by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 05:43:41 AM PDT

    •  UP loos forward more than you think (5+ / 0-)

      but as you know I am happy for you, and happy that you found Tonia.

      your life moved forward into new happiness, and you deserve it!

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 04:16:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "looks" forward... i typed too fast (5+ / 0-)

        UP is more forward looking than it may seem at first.

        but you don;t need to watch a grief movie--you have moved on better than almost anyone I know.  keep making the most of your new life, bigjac3

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 04:40:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I never imagined anyone writing anything like that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, Kit RMP, Randomfactor
          you have moved on better than almost anyone I know.  keep making the most of your new life, bigjac3
          about me,
          especially since I'm more emotionally fragile
          than most folks.

          As I keep telling everyone,
          I've been diagnosed as such:

          cyclothymia

          Like Bipolar II Disorder, symptoms of cyclothymia include periods of hypomania (see above). Depressive symptoms are also present as the hypomania fades. These symptoms. However, are not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode, in other words, are not as severe as those found in Bipolar Disorder.
          I think that's the term
          the psychiatrist used
          to label my disorder.

          I say,
          I'm doing well,
          since Tonia is taking care of me.

          And Tonia is as nearly ideal
          as a person could imagine:

          1. genius
          2. PhD in nursing, and years experience, caregiver for her dying mother, personal care attendant for various disabled folks for years
          3. took care of first wife Pam for two years,
          and lived with mark and Pam, getting to know me, Mark, and my dynamic with wife, Pam, so she could see the dynamic she could expect from me
          4. knew Pam for two years, so that my widower's memories, widower's moments of tears,
          talking about Pam, all understood.

          Before Tonia came along,
          I was worried that I'd find a nice woman,
          a woman who adored me,
          but who would cry and yell,
          every time I mentioned Pam.

          "I can't compete with a dead woman!"
          I could hear her scream.

          No such problem with Tonia.

          Tonia talks about Pam as much as I do.

          Thanks again for the reply.

          Thanks again.

          Bringing a child into the world at this point in history is a crime, the crime of child endangerment.

          by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 01:12:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  you are fragile AND strong, bigjac3 (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kit RMP, Randomfactor

            thanks for sharing your diagnosis.  but your diagnosis does not describe you completely.  there is more to you than that.  you are SO much more than that.

            yes you are fragile, maybe more fragile than most people.  your poetry shows that.

            but you are also strong.

            you are strong-willed when you know what you want.  

            through good fortune and your own efforts you have not gotten stuck in the lonely place that some people fall into and never climb out.

            you have been very practical about seizing hold of life and finding someone new, a woman who lets you process your grief in your own way and still moves you forward into new life at the same time.

            that is admirable.  always remember that.

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 07:56:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The real bottom line on me, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TrueBlueMajority

              is that I'm very lucky.

              Tonia is admirable,
              gives me the freedom to cry about Pam,
              gives me great times now,
              building new memories
              for decades to come,
              the last decades of my life.

              I'm mostly lucky.

              My smartest move
              was accepting Tonia,
              when she swept me off my feet.

              Do you realize,
              that as you admire me,
              you should remember I have a very large ego:

              I often daydream
              about a cult following,
              at least,
              fans who dig up all my old diaries and comments,
              and swoon over words like yours:

              You are fragile AND strong, bigjac3.

              Thanks for sharing your diagnosis.  

              But your diagnosis does not describe you completely.  

              There is more to you than that.  

              You are SO much more than that.

              Yes,
              you're fragile,
              maybe more fragile than most people.  

              Your poetry shows that.

              But you are also strong.

              You are strong-willed,
              when you know what you want.  

              Through good fortune,
              and your own efforts,
              you've avoided the lonely pit
              that some people fall into,
              and never climb out of,
              never escape.

              You've been very practical
              about seizing hold of life,
              and finding someone new,
              a woman who lets you
              process your grief
              in your own way,
              yet still moves you forward,
              into a new life,
              at the same time.

              That is admirable.  

              Always remember that.

              I've often said,
              even though it shows me to be self-centered,
              my favorite poetry
              is the words folks write,
              saying something positive,
              anything expressing good feelings,
              about me.

              It makes me cry,
              tears of joy.

              Thank you.

              Bringing a child into the world at this point in history is a crime, the crime of child endangerment.

              by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 02:14:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, there's "having a big ego".... (0+ / 0-)

                And then, there's "needing affirmation," which I think is indicative of the social animals that we humans really are, and is very normal, and healthy, IMHO. It is possible, of course, to be/do both. Consider which one is really going on, when you respond to positive messages from others. Just a thought.

  •  I am planning my Dad's 90th birthday (6+ / 0-)

    He is still autonomous, but he has deteriorated so quickly in the past year that I wonder if this will be his last one.  He has finally gotten serious about final financial arrangement, so he is clearly feeling it, too.

    It showed how a grieving person will sometimes choose to hold on to very specific behaviors or talismans as an obvious (and ultimately, of course, fruitless) stand in for holding on to the person who is gone.
    My mom died 3 years ago - and after 9 months of living alone, my dad had deteriorated so badly, I wasn't sure he would make it another year.  Then he met his girlfriend, and was "reborn."  Unfortunately, he chose someone just like my Mom, who, after a brief "honeymoon" period began to criticize him endlessly.  Visiting them is like going home when my Mom was still alive - the litany of complaints about him is constant.  At this point, I think it's a toss-up which will kill him first - being alone if she breaks up with him or dealing with the poisonous atmosphere if she stays.

    Sigh - I was so hoping that his last few years would be happy.

    Please, call me "Loris."

    by s l o w loris on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 06:39:15 AM PDT

  •  I'm sorry I didn't check into this (5+ / 0-)

    on Monday night. I was focused on posting my first Indigo Kalliope diary, as well as catching up with my CSA foodstock meal(s) preparation from before and after my trip to visit with my mom at her care center in Sitka, so I've been busy and distracted, as well as recovering from the trip.

    This is a great diary, TBM, and I'm glad you posted it. I haven't seen either Up or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close--I guess you can describe me as "movie-deprived." (I use that description of myself often.) I may need to invite myself over to my older son's place and see if he has either of those available in his collection or via Netflix.

    I do remember watching Avatar at a friend's place and completely losing it. Andy would have loved that movie and I doubt he ever got the chance to see it. Somehow, that one just hit me hard. I think I freaked my friend out when I lost it like that; he'd never seen me that way before. (That particular friendship is a difficult one for me, for a lot of reasons, and I'm usually somewhat guarded with him--I go back and forth on whether or not I should end it completely. Sigh)

    I look at those moments as a chance to do some important grief work. In that sense, I welcome them when they come. Although grieving has predictable stages, the process is unique for everyone who goes through it.

    Thanks so much, again, for posting this, TBM!

    •  thanks for stopping in Kit RMP (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kit RMP, Randomfactor

      it is amazing how powerful movie triggers can be.

      I saw avatar for the first time this spring also.  It was another movie I had avoided because I thought it would be a grief trigger, and it was.

      using them as teachable moments or opportunities to do grief work is one of the ways to make lemons out of lemonade.

      plus I am at a paradoxical point where almost everything is a trigger so it is hard to avoid everything.  it is harder and harder to find things that are innocuous enough to avoid pushing my numerous pain buttons.

      maybe that is why lately i have been seeing things like Avatar and UP and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close... movies I avoided because I knew they would trigger me.

      it's almost as if enough time has passed that I am inviting myself to watch those movies and put my toe in the water to test whether I am able to cope with some of those strong emotions now

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 09:00:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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