mona, interrupted

I cried yesterday at work. In my well-lit, easily viewed cubicle. In front of my co-workers. I used this month’s sick leave so Mike could come and pick me up.

I consider myself a level-headed person who is not quick to throw fits or ramble interminably about who’ll win Survivor China. And yet I was a dramatic, hot, red-faced mess, crying in the absolute worst place to cry.

I could say that my mini-breakdown began that morning when I caught myself in the bathroom mirror, crying and brushing my teeth. Have you ever tried to brush your teeth and cry at the same time? It’s pretty pathetic and difficult to maintain oral health when you’re sobbing.

I could also say that this began the night before, when Mike drove our family around to look at Christmas lights but all I wanted to talk about was how sad I was feeling, how this wasn’t just holiday-induced and this year I can’t seem to shake it off.

But really this started eight years ago when my best friend hanged herself in her front yard. She died one month after my brother did.

There are moments when I try to believe that I’m better now and that somehow time has worked its healing powers the way it does in love songs and romantic comedies. And then I realize how long it’s been since I buried my friend and all of a sudden my co-workers are asking what’s wrong and I’m crying so hard I can’t even explain any of it.

All these years, I’ve been able to live different versions of myself: the professional working woman, the frazzled mom, etc., but it’s this version of Mona who is coming back and affecting all of these other neatly segregated personalities: a sixteen-year-old Mona who has to give the eulogy at her best friend’s funeral.

I would rather talk about more light-hearted events in my life like one of my oldest and dearest friends is having a baby boy and getting married soon. For the first time in three years, we are not traveling for Christmas. We are spending our first Christmas in our brand-new home. A home that is necklaced with white, shiny icicle lights, thanks to my husband. Our decorations include large cumbersome wreaths! And a tree!

I’ve been hesitant to write about this, much less talk about it out loud because of how sad it is and the enormity of what I am facing. But I’m not doing anyone any favors to let another year go by and wallow in this trough come next December.

There is no shelf life to grief. I’m not going to wake up in two years, a decade having passed and magically I’m transformed into a emotionally-balanced and functioning human being. There is no I’ve decided this is the last year I am going to suffer without any help.

I would like to think that in a year I would have made some progress. I have to believe that I will be able to process what happened without breaking down. I have to believe that this will make me a better person.

But I don’t know. I’m not there yet.

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  1. Grief is horrible and sneaky. It runs deep and sometimes sneaks up on you in horrible ways. I’m so sorry for your horrible day…. take care of yourself. Hold onto those you love

  2. It is important to not bottle grief. It’s the only way to not feel bad all the time.

    I’m so sorry for Isa and all those who loved and knew her.

  3. Oh, Mona, I am sorry you are feeling so crummy. I really think the winter/holidays bring it out. If talking/writing about it helps, bring it on.

  4. Mrs. Blogoway says:

    I knew something was wrong when you weren’t writing. I wonder if you’re like me and don’t want to write if you don’t feel happy or funny? Just know that you’re not in this alone. I lost my best friend 5 years ago and still feel pain when I think or talk about it. But somehow when I share it, I feel a tiny bit better.

  5. I kept hoping after 8 years this feeling would go away, but it never does.

  6. Type (little) a says:

    My father died almost 5 years ago, and most of the time I’m fine. But even now, sometimes the grief is completely fresh.

    It happens to me when I think about 9/11 for too long, too.

    You are right, there is not expiration date on grief, but I understand the feeling that you want to move past the icky icky sad part. I sometimes feel like people don’t want to hear about how sad I am. My husband is NOT one of those people. He always listens, but because he’s so wonderfully supportive, sometimes I feel like I don’t want to keep burdening him with my shit, you know? I have no solution for you, just sympathy.

    And no assvice, I swear, but considering the circumstances of your friend’s death, have you ever thought you could have PTSD?

    Take care Mona. be nice to yourself.

  7. to lose someone that way is an especially egregious affront to the heart. The heart does not forget so easily, but dear girl take as long as you need as use this space as you see fit.

  8. I’m so sorry. I can (luckily) only imagine what it must feel like to loose someone you love.

  9. Oh Mona, what an awful tragic experience! Take care of yourslef!!

  10. I’m so sorry, hon. Be good to yourself.

  11. Oh, sweetie.

    Grief is hard. And it never leaves, but eventually dims a bit.

    You just let it out the best way you know how.

    Sending hugs and blessings to you šŸ™‚

  12. I’m so glad you wrote this. Grief is traumatic and hard to process alone. I am so sorry to hear about your multiple losses. I hope that this helps.

    anne at

  13. I followed your link, and that is a lovely tribute you have created for her. Take care.

  14. *big hugs* i can relate.. totally relate.

    take care of youself and lean on those who love you.

  15. I’m sorry you’re hurting Mona. I hate that brand of pain that just hides behind the drapes until you’ve taken a breather, just to jump all over you again. Please don’t back down on getting help this year.

  16. Chickenbells says:

    Oh Mona, grief indeed is a sneaky beast…getting you from behind…especially at the holidays. I know when I feel sad about something I feel impatient with myself and think about how much time has passed, and gosh darn it…hasn’t it been enough time? But, while time sometimes dulls the pain, I don’t know if it ever makes it go away…maybe it’s not supposed to?

  17. Mamacita Chilena says:

    I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way now. It’s completely understandable and acceptable that you needed to have a breakdown at work. It happens. Pain is pain. And when someone commits suicide and all your left with is unanswered questions it feels like the pain never goes away.

    A good friend of my committed suicide in high school when I was 17. It was homecoming week and he shot himself through the mouth in our school parking lot. It was just a few days after 9/11 and the police came and nobody knew what was going on. We went in lock down and they announced that there had been an “incident” involving that student. From my classroom window I could see the police looking at my friends car. One of the policemen walked away from the car with his hand covering his mouth and a horrible look in his face and I KNEW what had happened.

    I think about him all the time and I wonder if everybody else from my grade think about him as much as I do. Sometimes I wonder if it’s weird how much I miss him even though we weren’t best friends. My stomach got a sick little knot just writing this, but I just wanted to share with you since you shared with us.

    You must miss her so much.

  18. Pickles & Dimes says:

    “There is no shelf life on grief.”

    That is probably the best description I have ever read. I hope things start to feel better for you soon.

  19. grrltraveler says:

    Everybody has already said a lot of wonderful things. Here’s a few online hugs:


  20. I’m so sorry about your friend. That site is a lovely tribute to her.

  21. So, so sorry for your loss. She was a beautiful girl and it must have been devastating to lose her like that. Please know that you have many friends here who love you and are willing to listen anytime to anything you need to say.

  22. Mona, I’m really sorry for your loss and your pain. I’m feeling you, believe me. Obviously, each loss is very different for each person, but I understand that awful black hole of grief. I lost my mom in a terrible and unexpected way and found out later that I was suffering PTSD. (Seriously, you can’t NOT return my phone call. Ever. Or I’ll have a panic attack. Even if I’m in the middle of Target. I will freak the f out. Because obviously, you aren’t calling back because you are dead. Long story.)

    I’m not big on telling people how to deal with their shit, but therapy helped me. Blogging helps boatloads. Seems to me, from your comments, your Internet Friends šŸ™‚ are here for you if you want to use this space as an outlet.

    It’s a freaking life saver for me sometimes at 3 in the morning when I’ve just cried so hard I’ve broken blood vessels in my face, but I don’t want to wake up my husband AGAIN to deal with me and my blubbering self.

    The blog? Makes me feel BETTER. I hope you feel better, too.

    Hugging babies always helps me, too. šŸ˜‰

  23. I don’t know if anyone is really “there yet” either. Grief can envelop even the strongest at times, and it’s during these times that we need all those shoulders around to cry on.

    It’s okay to do that.

  24. thanks for being brave and saying what most people are afraid to: grief takes forever. it never goes away, because you will always love that person. i still cry about my grandma, and she died nearly 15 years ago. you have an isa-shaped hole in your life. tht will never change. but i hope it gets easier to manage. (also, i echo the ptsd thing. . . it’s sneaky and not just for veterans.) don’t struggle alone. oxoxxoxo

  25. Butrfly Garden says:

    I’m so sorry I missed this.

    I have found that anniversaries help us live our lives more normal during the rest of the year. They give us a set time to grieve. This was the first year in 14 years that I have done ANYTHING on Dec. 8 – the day my brother died. For 13 years, I refused to go to school or work because I NEEDED that day to mourn. This is also why I choose “anniversaries” to mourn and birthdays to celebrate. Because as much as I need to mourn the people I’ve loved and lost, I also need to remember what made them so special and WHY they were so loved..and even though I cry still, I can’t be sad.

    What a good friend to love her so long.

  26. I’m so sorry. She’s beautiful. My best friend was killed in the tsunami and I often wondered whether I’d remain sane. I don’t believe grief makes us a better person. I think the lucky ones remain good despite it. I think – I KNOW – grief erodes us, makes us less. How can less make us better? That’s bollocks as far as I’m concerned. There certainly used to be more of me. I have finally dealt with the worst of it, I have finally accepted the fact that he is, indeed, very dead. But your post reminded me that even though I feel infinitely better I need to prepare for the unexpected things that will still pierce the armour. It will never be all done, it will never be over. Thank you.

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