I watched part of Beth Chapman’s memorial service on YouTube. If you don’t know who that is, I’ll tell you briefly. Beth and her husband Duane “Dog” Chapman are bounty hunters with a famous TV show. When I moved to the suburbs and became a stay at home mom I would watch hours and hours of their show because I had hours and hours empty during the day when my kids were in school. I had no idea how to be a stay at home mother. I knew how to live in chaos and how to go in and out of jail. One thing I learned shortly after moving to the burbs is that knowing how to bail someone out of jail isn’t something everyone knows how to do. I remember the first time I met someone who didn’t know what “the procedure” was to get someone out of jail was. I laugh snorted so loud.
I worked for a bail bond woman once. It was by far my favorite job. I loved helping people get out of jail, lecturing them when they came to sign papers and my boss was a heavy smoker so we could smoke at work. Plus I had my own desk and endless office supplies. I lost that job when I was arrested for traffic tickets. You can’t be a bondsman and also keep getting arrested apparently.
So when I watched Beth and Dog Chapman chase down people who jumped bail and catch them, all while giving them advice on how life can be better if they got their shit together, as I myself was working to pull myself out of a life where going in and out of jail was the norm, I saw hope. I saw good people. I saw Beth as a mother and fierce wife. I also saw a good marriage. Something I didn’t see much of in my life and something I wanted badly.
Watching her memorial was hard though because it reminded me about how grief works. Grief is so so weird and it is like a person hiding in the bushes waiting for random moments to jump out and punch you in the face. One moment you are remembering the dead person and laughing at something funny they said and they next you are wondering how the fuck any of this is real. How is it real that they are dead and you are standing in front of all these people saying “Anthony WAS” instead of “is” and you’re reeling. It is like driving on a winding West Virginia Highway. Ups and downs and spiraling around and then just as you get used to that it gets worse until your finally in a state that doesn’t have death traps for highways. I haven’t reached that part of grief yet though.
Grief is universal but also, not all grief is the same. I think everyone has that one loss that takes them out. The one that changes everything. Not every spouse who loses the other spouse goes through The One Person kind of grief. That isn’t good nor bad, it just is. Not every child lost is The One Person loss for the parents. Again, not good nor bad, just how it goes.
The One Person loss comes with shock and trauma. It comes with nightmares and the inability to focus. It comes with depression and the lack of motivation. It comes with rage anytime the suggestion of “one day it will get better” is made because you do not want things to get better what you want is for your One Person to not be fucking dead. It comes with no peace in the idea that your One Person is with God. I mean, you’re thankful for that faith but really, God really should have just kept them alive because that is the only thing that would make sense to you. The One Person grief comes with guilt. Why didn’t you just spend every second you could with them? Why didn’t you do better? Why didn’t you appreciate life before their death? All of these things and more come in waves. It is exhausting and also so so infuriating. You want to sleep but then people will start asking you if you think maybe you should get on meds for depression as if it is not normal to be freakin’ sad when someone you love dies suddenly.
They think that would help because they have not had their One Person kind of Grief in life yet. Also, my son died by suicide so everyone was so scared I was going to kill myself too.
That they haven’t faced this kind of loss should make you happy for them, but it doesn’t. It makes you hate them. Oh, the hatred of people who try to comfort you verses the hatred for those who won’t come near you (because you’re kind of an asshole) part of grief. Nobody warns you about that. Because you “know their intentions are good” and should be “grateful”. Let me tell you, you do not have to be grateful for shit. You are grieving, you are shattered, your person is dead and you get to be an asshole. When you stop being one, you can appreciate the people who stuck it out and if there aren’t any then you can build a new tribe. Trust me. There are a lot of people who understand the Asshole stage of grief. They are your people now.
You get to be selfish when you are facing the worst thing to happen to you. I’ve talked to God about this and He agrees with me. In fact being selfish is the best way to heal. It’s also a good way to weed out fake friends. Or weak friendships. All of which take up time you don’t have once you are spending 24/7 grieving.
If you are a mother, wife and/or matriarch of your family and the dead person is a kid you carried in your womb, let me tell you, you need a therapist and a priest (or some kind of spiritual guide). You need a list of things that you enjoy doing by yourself and you need that list posted in a lot of places where you can see it a lot. You need to live a life where you have access to the things on that list regularly. Even if it means telling people to fend for themselves for two or three hours. Or taking little kids to daycare. Because you will grieve like nobody else does but you will also have to love grieving people like nobody else will. At the same time. It’s a real biatch to juggle. But you will have to do it for your family to find its way. I’m sure this works for grieving fathers too but fathers who lose a child have no clue what it is like to have had that child live inside their body. Again, this doesn’t mean the loss any less painful but it is different and that is just a fact. Being a mother who loses a child you have carried and birthed is a very lonely place. Nobody else in the entire world knows that bond you had with that person who lived under your ribs. It is why Mary’s relationship with Jesus was different than His relationship with everyone else.
Grief makes me ramble. Even more so than I did before. Watching Dog give his speech at Beth’s memorial, I realized that rambling is also a part of grief and it happens because that’s what is going on in the brain. My brain goes from coherent thoughts to “oh look a squirrel!” thinking in two seconds. It makes it difficult to write because I just lose track of what I’m saying or why I’m saying it.
For instance I forgot exactly why I thought writing this post was a good idea. At the end of it all, my whole point is that grief is so weird and so hard and such a disturbance of life as you knew it. It is like being in the ocean. The waves crash against you and you’re not sure if you’re gonna get stung by a jellyfish or eaten by a shark, but you just gotta keep swimming.
Take care of yourself, give yourself permission to feel what you feel without apology. Go to therapy. Go sit in an empty church. Go to the library. Get some coffee. Binge Netflix. Whatever. Give yourself space to be sad your person is gone because if you’re not sad, you’re not healing. Or you’re a psychopath. Could be either one, I don’t know your life.
*all of this is my personal opinion. If you have any issues with any of it, just don’t read it. Don’t send me emails telling me how wrong I am. I concede that I could very well be the wrongest person alive. And goodnight.