***DISCLAIMER/TRIGGER WARNING*** The “Grief Sucks” series is an ongoing response to my experience of a recent loss. As such, it may contain things that could serve as triggers for people who have also experienced loss. Finally, I respect that there are as many ways to grieve as there are people and I mean no offence to those who process grief differently than I do. Should you choose to stay and read, I ask only to be met with that same basic respect and understanding.
So, not long after my father passed away I was rooting around inside the refrigerator and found a dairy item suspicious to me given recent travel and infrequent grocery shopping. I pulled it out of the fridge as my teenaged son, all puppy-paws dragging through sleep-shaggy hair, sauntered into the kitchen to graze. I read the date on the container.
“Huhn,” I said, “this expired the same day Dad did.”
My son, who gets me (in part because he was raised by me but also because he is simply who he is), grinned with shocked eyes and a wide open mouth held taught and soundless. He put a hand on my shoulder and couldn’t help but let out a real laugh. You could tell that he didn’t quite know if he should be ashamed of me or post proudly about me on Instagram.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “I told you a long time ago that Mommy has an irreverent sense of humour.” And, I had. We’d had a whole conversation about different kinds of humour when he was about 8 years-old. I wanted him to understand that not everyone finds the same things funny; that a sense of humour is a powerful gift and source of strength and connection but that it can also alienate you from people. We didn’t get into it that deeply when he was 8, but the foundation was laid so he knew exactly what I meant when I offered the reminder.
He wasn’t offended. He really did get it because he, too, has developed a fairly irreverent sense of humour and because he really does love and understand me as a person.
Laughter is medicine. Literally and figuratively for the way it releases happy hormones into the body and for the way it takes that which is emotionally heavy and sort of magically makes it lighter. I don’t know how I would get through this experience without a sense of humour and that includes casually comparing my Dad’s death to a tub of old cottage cheese.
The bottom line is that the expiry date on the cottage cheese was exactly the same day my father died and that date will likely be burned into my brain for the rest of my still remaining years of good memory. I suppose I could have just quietly noticed the overlap, thrown the cottage cheese out, recycled the container.
But, I felt real pain in seeing that date on that container. And, that pain needed some form of healthy release. And I’d cried enough that day.
And I have an irreverent sense of humour.
So, I guess it is what it is.