Stupid & Clumsy From Grief

Posted on January 8, 2021


I know that grief makes us stupid and clumsy. So much of our brains are grieving, that we endanger ourselves. I KNOW this.

And yet.

And yet, even as I warned myself to “take it slow and be CAREFUL!,” the first move I made to remove the packaging from a new kitchen knife was disastrous, and I gouged my hand. Fortunately, I know first aid, and I’m able to enact procedures while going into shock, and as soon as I saw blood, I had turned on the tap, rinsed the wound, and a voice in my head began chanting, “pressure and elevate.” I was able to slow the bleeding well enough to dress it, then I retired to the recliner, where I elevated my hand and slept off the symptoms of shock. When I woke, my hand hurt, but the rest of me had settled down. But I couldn’t write. I was back to doing everything right-handed–and my rehab from the broken left wrist was going so well!

Oh, well. I had to give my hand a break and let it heal. That was Tuesday.

I reminded myself that grief makes it difficult to be fully present in our bodies, and that grieving people have a lot of accidents. In fact, this is my 2nd stupid, clumsy accident from grief.

Over the holidays, I decided to make treats for loved ones as I usually do, but stick with simple recipes that demand little from the cook. I decided on Rice Krispy Treats, Puppy Chow, and Caramel Corn–the easiest possible recipes.

But would grief let me make these simple treats without fucking up? Oh, hell no!

The RKT and PC came off without a hitch, but the Caramel Corn? Not so much!

My weak left hand lost control of the pan as I was pouring the molten caramel onto the corn, THEN some caramel fell onto my hand, burning my fingers and staying there, at which point, the hot pan brushed into my fluffy bathrobe and MELTED it!

I did not realize what had happened until I got the corn in the oven and started to wash the pan. “What’s that purple stuff on the bottom of the pan?” I wondered. As I tried to scrub it off, I realized it was burned onto the stainless steel, and required a vigorous scrub with the stainless steel scrubber, and even then, it didn’t all come off the pan. “What the hell is that?” I wondered.

Then I reached down to adjust and re-tie my robe, as it had nearly fallen open in the fracas, when I saw a dinner-plate-sized area of blackened, melted polyester “fur.” Well, shit. I remember getting that robe on clearance more than 10 years ago, and I remember thinking, “This is probably the last robe I’ll buy until I die. This shit lasts forever!” And it was purple “fur,” so soft and warm, with pockets!

But now it’s in the garbage can out by the garage. Damn.

And I’m not the only member of the family this is happening to…One family member, an excellent driver, had a “fender bender” in a parking lot when they misjudged the space between the car and a barricade, and another family nearly made a stupid decision to go out driving in an ice storm for a completely inessential item. Fortunately, their spouse convinced them to wait until the next day to go out, after the ice had melted.

On Wednesday, my son was coming by in the afternoon, and he knows how to dress a wound, especially since he gave himself the same kind of wound a few years back while spoon carving, so I put a garden glove on my hand and did all the house chores I wanted to do, then took a shower. I planned to change the dressing myself, but if I needed help, my son could give me a hand (wink) before he left town. The wound had bled a little the day before, but it had stopped and was dry, and I was able to clean it, glue it shut, and re-bandage it with only a couple of minutes of agonizing pain while the glue dried.

I intended to post a blog after that, but when I sat down to the computer, I thought, “Let me check the messages and news while I fire up my writing brain…”


And that was that. The only thing I was able to write was a post to the parents who were posting their fearful and out-raged posts on social media. I thought about how children can be affected by their parents’ emotional states, so I posted:

If you are parenting young children, I offer this public service announcement:Please be conscious of how children can “absorb” anxiety in the home, and it can harm them, even if they don’t know why they feel bad, mad, scared, or other feelings. Please protect your young children from the turmoil in the media, and limit your exposure so that you don’t get your cortisol levels too elevated. The kids are stressed enough. Practice self-care & be proactive about exposing kids to what’s in the media. Peace & Love to YOU and the kids.

Yesterday I woke up to a sea of pain from my spine and nerves. I don’t know if it was triggered by watching several hours of the news coverage of the terrorism at the Capitol, or if it was triggered by a brisk walk on pavement (which sometimes happens), or if it was triggered by the trauma of cutting my hand, or what…but I spent the entire day on self-care, and I was only able to gain a few minutes of low pain after waking. Shortly thereafter, the skull-crushing headache and neck/shoulder pain had returned, and the only relief comes from encasing them in ice packs.

I have had to take the advice I gave the parents and limit my media exposure. I listened to the news for one hour this morning, but now I will leave it off until evening, and I will limit my exposure to traumatic news until I come out of this pain flare.

To get away from it all, I took a little “vacation” to a land of fairy magic by reading a sweet and touching middle grades YA novel, Granted, by John David Anderson. I am NOT a reader of fantasy or sci-fi; I have trouble suspending my disbelief, and I crave actual science fact, so it was an unusual choice for me. I will say, it was a bit of a rough go at first, but when the fairy left her own world, came to the human realm, and met a DOG!!!!–I couldn’t stop reading! I had to know what was going to happen to that DOG!

I am surprised to find that I love this sweet story, and if I were still in the classroom, I’d use it as a read-aloud, in Mythology, for sure, but also, in ELA9. It would be a great beginning-of-the-year read, as I’d be talking about “making the magic happen” as writers in Writer’s Workshop. It turns out, a lot of work goes into making magic happen, even for fairies, and this novel would be a great touchstone for a classroom of readers and writers.

As we head into the weekend, I wish you good health and good spirits. We’re in dark times as Americans, and our democracy needs our undying commitment and labor–BUT we have to find the balance that allows us each to contribute to the community–while preserving our health. As I always say, “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.”

For right now, I’m going to take a break and rest up and come back and fight another day. Be well, friends. Thanks for reading.

lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

On email: