Funeral Hat

I began this post last fall, and I don’t know when or if I would have posted it, had I not read Prajakta’s post along the same lines.
Just Jot It January brings a lot of inspiration. Today’s prompt is ‘elusive’ and I often elude the prompt. You can find elusive here, but it’s not blatant.


A long time ago, I guess 17 years and some months ago, I took some girly stuff over to my MIL’s house for her dress-up box. She’s one of those mamaws who likes having a miniature preschool for the kids at her house.

There were a lot of hats, and we had fun trying them on.
Except the funeral hat.
You know the sort, black straw with the netting veil you can roll down?

I took it off. Something about having it on made me feel uneasy. As I took it off, I said, “Shouldn’t wear a funeral hat when you’re not at a funeral.”

My MIL hollered up the stairs that my mother was on the phone. Not since I’d been a schoolgirl had my mother called over there. She called to tell me my grandmother died.

My grandmother had been in a car accident in Florida days before. Because of her age, they kept watch over her at the hospital, making sure everything was right as rain before releasing her.
She was due to go home.
Family had just left, she’d been laughing and having a great time visiting. When they left, an aneurysm took her home instead.

Was I sad? Yes.
Was there anything I could do? No.
I went on.

My grandmother gave me all her stories, the best summers of my childhood, and taught me many worthy skills. I was lucky to have one grandmother who loved me so much, and I had two.

Neither death nor sickness prompt typical, normal, expected responses from me.
I am not sure WHY.
I have always been this way.
I will tell you I’m sorry and take in your grief, but I will remain detached and helpless because I am aware that helpless is the key word. There is likely nothing I can do or say to assuage your anguish. There isn’t anything you can do or say to assuage mine. I know this because I have lived.

I don’t have personal issues with my lack of expression, but rather, other people do not like this about me.
Now and again, I’m hit with the mention or insinuation that I am cold or unfeeling, but I am not.
I don’t openly respond the same way most people do. When people are struggling to live, or have passed, I feel sad. I also feel emotionally unavailable to others.

I generally feel emotionally unavailable to others. My feelings, my sadness, my struggles — they’re mine. I’ve been strong for a long, long time. Survivor strong, independent strong, military spouse strong.

I am easily moved and well-up at least once a day, given even the slightest provocation. I can handle all the feelings. I feel emotions unexpressed. I can take it all, but very few people can handle my vulnerability.
Yes, I do have trust issues and abandonment issues, but I don’t think it’s a broken thing, I think it’s a type of person thing. Introverted, high-energy, empathic: Here for others. Need others rarely. DO NOT MIND.


You think I’m not a private person because I have a public blog and I’ll tell you all kinds of things, AND HOW! and so candidly! But honestly, I tell you all the time that 12 people know my life and I mean that. I also tell you just because something isn’t on the blog doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

I seldom blog about anything painful. Are you kidding? When I complain about anything, even the most trivial thing, there’s always one asshat in the group who tells me I’m not entitled to complain about my perfect life, directing me to all the ways in which they hurt. How little one must see, hear, feel, live, to think that so many other humans are without suffering. How self-absorbed they must be to think they have the monopoly on pain.

Tell me, do you need me to follow the prescribed grief rulebook, don a mask, and act like I’m grieving, or can you understand that for me, grief is personal?


About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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67 Responses to Funeral Hat

  1. Grief is very personal and private.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Benson says:

    Grief is always personal. People need to grieve for themselves and sometimes; sometimes just talking to someone helps. I can’t expect someone else to understand my pain anymore than I can expect to understand theirs. All a person can do is remind them that you know pain and you will be there for them. Thanks

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ally Bean says:

    Your self-awareness is amazing. I think that you know yourself so well that other people are baffled by it, so they find fault with you because you’re showing them who they wish they were. Like IreneDesign2011 said above, “grief is very personal” so take no never mind about what other people expect from you. You’re cool the way you are.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I understand completely. I step back too when such things happen, because there is nothing that can be done, and if there were it’s beyond my skillset. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dan Antion says:

    All I am ever comfortable sharing is the genuine feelings I’m experiencing at the time. Some people can get closer to others’ pain than I can. I try to be supportive, but I can’t fake what I don’t feel. I complain about a ton of “first world” problems. It doesn’t mean I don’t have others, it just means that’s what I feel like sharing. No one should ever assume that their grief is the deepest, their problems the most pressing, or their fears are the worst imaginable. I think we make more mistakes as a society today, because a) we assume too much, and b) we share our assumptions and let others amplify them as if they are facts.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. meANXIETYme says:

    I feel like you were writing about me, with the exception that I have been sharing a lot of my pain on my blog. For the first time in my life, I’ve pushed myself to share a shit-ton more emotionally than I do with anyone except my husband and my mother. It’s helped me that I keep this blog pretty anonymous, and that I’ve specifically used my blog as therapy for myself (and historical information for me) more than trying to be helpful to others. Obviously I didn’t know how much grief would take over my life and my blog when I started it, but this is a place where I can express it without feeling like I’m failing or “doing it wrong”. But like you there are things I won’t share because they are too much mine.

    I often find myself being unemotional and detached in many emotionally charged situations. But it is not because I am cold but rather because I feel too much. I always worry that I won’t be able to keep hold of my emotions when other people need me, so I’d rather shut down and help them than break down and be of no assistance. Later, when I am alone to process and deal, I will allow the emotions to come. I think at this point the people who KNOW me know this about me. There are exceptions to my seeming detached, but it is often again with my husband or my mother.

    Also, I think the number of people who KNOW ME is much smaller than your number. But I have always preferred to have friends in ones or twos because I am always there for them and much more than that is too energetically draining for me. I used to wonder how other people could have so many friends, until I realized that my empath (hsp) tendencies were kind of a unique quality and others don’t live that way.

    What I need from you, my friend Joey, is for you to be who you are without one single change. You are who you are BECAUSE you are who you are. And I appreciate you that way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      I appreciate your appreciation, and it’s mutual.
      I value your honesty here and in your own blog. Reading about your grief is life-affirming to me. If you didn’t blog about it, would either of us be the same? “I’d rather shut down and help them than break down and be of no assistance. Later, when I am alone to process and deal…” Yes. That. Just like that. More often, I can deal and heal better alone.
      I do not see friends often, and I think that gives me space. Rubber-banding, you know.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It would be easy to go deep on this one. Let me just say that some of us built a wall of protection at a very young age to protect ourselves from the drama. I know I still have mine, and very few have crossed into my personal space. Grief resides there, it does not need company. 💘

    Liked by 5 people

  8. LindaGHill says:

    I’m like you in some aspects so much it’s incredible. I go through the motions, and yes, I feel for the grieving, but in a way that must remain distant from me. Mostly because I feel as though I’m potentially on my own personal edge at any given moment. To fully, and I mean really fully, empathize is, for me, to imagine the worst happening to me. I keep my distance to keep my sanity. Because if I’m insane, everyone around me loses. I can’t afford it.
    And DON’T try to hug me when I’m upset. Not a real-life hug. (Internet ones are okay, because again, they’re distant.)
    Great post, my dear. I shall never think of you as cold.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. pluviolover says:

    My experience is that in most cases, I need only acknowledge the grief of others, offer support, and maybe follow up. In one recent case, I learned to watch her eyes before asking, “How are you doing?” I just listen. The challenge for me is when I’m asked to be “strong” (they mean stoic). That’s not really me, but I do my best. I’m gunna have to read this post again. Thanks for the personal reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think grief is very personal. If I am upset, then I am the type who holds it in until someone asks (big mistake) then I blub and bawl all over the place.
    When I see others grieving I find it hard to know what to say, as I do feel badly for them but don’t want to say the wrong thing. I am also not a touchy feely person so if I do feel compelled to give them a hug, it is probably awkward, despite being well-meaning!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this post. I agree that many of us process and express emotions differently. And, why shouldn’t we? We all have different experiences, relationships, temperaments, and brains. I appreciate your position…and your authenticity. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “I will remain detached and helpless because I am aware that helpless is the key word. There is likely nothing I can do or say to assuage your anguish. There isn’t anything you can do or say to assuage mine. I know this because I have lived.”

    Exactly. “Helpless” as in there is no remedy. Stop looking for one.

    And I’d wager that those who have issues, are not looking inward for guidance, but are using a an external reference or guidebook, if you will, that prescribes exactly what to say, how to say it, what to do, how you do it, etc. Anyone who deviates from the script is, well, a deviate.

    Beautiful post.
    From a fellow INFJ

    Liked by 1 person

  13. orbthefirst says:

    Grief is weird. And hard. And very personal. At the same time that I want to hug and hold people that are grieving, I know that when I feel that way, I just want to go away, & be left alone to process these things. So I do what I think feels appropriate at the time and try to just let those folks I love know that Im there, if they want.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. jan says:

    People who claim they suffer more than anyone else on line are presumptuous indeed. There’s only so much we can know about our virtual friends. (I also adored my grandmother)

    Liked by 2 people

  15. lorriedeck says:

    Joey, you be you. Just be glorious you.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. John Holton says:

    There’s a prescribed grief rulebook? It’s news to me. Really, everyone’s different. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t people that believe there is (my mother was one).

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Prajakta says:

    “I generally feel emotionally unavailable to others. My feelings, my sadness, my struggles — they’re mine. I’ve been strong for a long, long time.”
    This sums it up for me. I struggled so much when I was writing, your post puts it lucidly. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. prior.. says:

    Hi Joey, I do agree that many folks feel there are “ways” we should respond to grief and other matters – and I learned a lot about personal grief in 2016. I had taught grief workshops in 2001and worked with clients. Even designed some curriculum and all that… and for the ladies in our group a common hurdle was not dealing with grief at all – or other senses of loss – and other things they grieved over. and so our goal was to help them start to no longer bury all feelings – like grief – and to learn how to identify past hurst and see their coping styles and then process.
    Take those suitcases down and start going through them….
    instead of stacking bags and staying numb or avoiding issues.
    sadly, I don’t think there are enough resources available for folks who are moving through grief and so later I hope to make an updated workbook – not for everyone to use – because as you noted here- we all have different ways of responding and dealing with it.
    it was one thing to teach workshops about coping with grief – and quite another thing going through my own major loss last year.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I have no specifics when it comes to grieving and mosts times I have no idea how I’ll respond to any given situation. I don’t think that there’s a specific way to grieve because it’s a personal thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I sometimes have a hysterical giggle that wells up in me at the oddest times. Not at the funerals, thankfully, but like as soon as I’m away from such. It happens when I’m confronted with too much emotion and don’t know how to respond. I have flogged myself internally about this for years. It’s not something I can help nor do I mean it as disrespectful. It’s just how I process things. It releases something in me afterwards and I can cry at last. I remember my father had an uncomfortable time at funerals as well. He couldn’t even bring himself to go inside where the funeral was being held or to the graveside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      I understand. One of my dearest friends also suffers from nervous laughter. I’m sure it must be difficult to forgive yourself, but honestly, sometimes her laughter, even when inappropriate, maybe especially when, is a great tension breaker for the rest of us.
      Thanks for sharing, Traci.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. marianallen says:

    Where’s the LOVE button? I never know if I’m going to show my emotion or not. I’ve learned to pretend my heart is on my sleeve when it isn’t, because displaying the happiness or sorrow I feel deep down inside for the people I’m with is a gift I’ve decided to give them without their knowing I’m giving it. It feels weird to fake something that’s real, but that’s the kind of odd duck I am.

    DO NOT feel like you have to behave in a certain way to please people — unless you want to. If they don’t like you for the way you are, maybe they’re unworthy of your depth. HUGS

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Anxious Mom says:

    I kinda get how you feel — I also feel rather detached with other’s grief and stuff. But then I read some random article online about something bad happening to no one I know and am a fucking mess.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I think most times, listening is way more important than offering advice about a personal issue that in reality we really don’t understand. Yes, we all have grief over the death of a loved one, but it is all different because we don’t know the story behind it.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Laura says:

    There is no prescribed grief book, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Grief is always personal, and choosing to grieve privately is valid. This makes me almost as crazy as the person who told me I needed to “get over this and move on.” Holy hell, what’s wrong with people?! Sending good thoughts your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I’m not very good with other people’s grief. I feel like what I’m saying is hollow or sort of meaningless (not even sure that really describes it). I’m there to listen or lend support if somebody needs it, but I also don’t like to feel like I’m prying when there is grief.
    Some people like to process their feelings alone.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. reocochran says:

    I believe it is valuable to be honest. When I go to a funeral, especially if I know the deceased, I will tell a favorite trait or short memory.
    No one has the right to “one-up” another in grief, pain or other emotions. I also feel judgment is wrong. Under some people’s facades there is this lying there.
    Joey, I feel close to you due to our sharing, but would only really know you if I were close and has time to spend with you. My brothers are special, my Mom used to know me, I have three close friends. Each are with me in my heart. Thanks for sharing how you are, revealing but I felt some elements and values I already “knew” you. Hugs xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      There are a few people in my life who more or less assume that if I don’t post about it on social media, it’s not happening. They think my whole life is out there, and well, it’s not.
      I think we get to know our fellow bloggers very well. I feel great kinship with many, including you, but not well enough to assume. *hugs*

      Liked by 1 person

      • reocochran says:

        No, I only felt “some elements and values” but I hope I didn’t sound like I know all about you, Joey! Thanks if you got this from my rather obscure comment. I was reading responses from earlier in the day on several blogs. I like the idea of “kinship” and won’t assume too much. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Just because you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve doesn’t mean you don’t have one.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Joanne Sisco says:

    I’m late to this one, Joey and it struck a nerve with me. Emotions are tricky things and some of us don’t always express them well … and grief is the most complicated of all.

    I started to write a long and complicated comment – and then I realized it could be simplified to just one size does not fit all.

    Liked by 1 person

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