When people find out that you have suffered the loss of a loved one, they tell you to "take care of yourself". I know I have definitely said that to other people but until I was on the receiving end of those comments, I hadn't thought about what it really meant. I spent some time trying to figure it out. I knew it was important for me to try not to become an alcoholic or a drug addict (although, to be honest, both of those have seemed to be tempting options at times!). I also figured that getting a good amount of sleep, exercising, and eating healthy foods were important. In other words, I didn't think of much beyond taking care of myself physically, but it turns out that mentally taking care of myself has been hugely important as well.
Within a week of Sue's death, I started to notice a disturbing trend with my behavior. Every day I would sit down, multiple times a day, and make myself crazy and angry by reading Facebook.
(Can I just stop right here and ask all of you who were Facebook friends with me to please, please understand my state of mind at the time, and my continuing state of mind. I am not trying to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't post on Facebook, I am only trying to relay my feelings. Also, I am totally guilty of posting any number of the things I about about to complain about on Facebook myself, so it's really not a jab at anyone. Thanks for understanding)
Why was I crazy and angry? I'll explain. First, I was angry with almost everyone on earth. A random mailman drove by me and I honestly thought to myself, "Oh good for you, Mailman. You get to go on living your life just as you did last week. Meanwhile, my whole world has been torn apart. I really hate you."
When I got onto Facebook a day or two after my sister's funeral, what did I see? Everyone living their lives. I felt actual rage at the fact that people were posting brownie recipes and my sister was dead. And let's not even talk about the people who would casually say something like, "Ugh, locked my keys in my car, this is the worst day of my f*&king life."
When someone posted an angry political opinion, I would become enraged. Why are they wasting their precious moments on earth by being angry about something as stupid as what dumb so-and-so from whatever party said on whichever political talk show last night? Is your loved one dead? Then be happy, you jerk!
Even something so seemingly innocent as a mom posting about taking her child to the park would set me off. I would think, "I am a terrible parent right now. All I do is lay on the couch and cry. I'm probably ruining my kids."
One day, in the midst of feeling bad/sad/angry about every.single.post on Facebook, I had an epiphany. Maybe it wasn't them. Maybe it was me. That was the day I shut down my account. I made my social circle much smaller. I only talked to people one-on-one, either on the phone, by email, or in person. It began to dawn on me that nobody on Facebook was deliberately trying to hurt me. I started to feel less stress.
I occasionally check in on Facebook by using Frank's account just to test the waters. I quickly realize that I am not ready to return. I want to grab some people by the shoulders, shake them, and yell, "Don't you understand that you could be dead tomorrow? Is the crap you complain about really that important? Don't you get that the relative you are arguing with might not wake up in the morning?"
Sue used to tell me, "Just step away from the 'book" when I would get too worked up about something I read there. Well, Sis, I have stepped away and feel a lot more peaceful. It has been one of the best things I've done to take care of myself.