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The Unpredictability of Grief and the Orange Cup

Before I begin, this post is not seeking sympathy. It is merely trying to shed a little light on the total weirdness and unpredictability of grief. Those who have experienced deep loss already know. But for those who have not:

I washed the orange cup today.

“The orange cup” is not a metaphor. It’s a small, plastic cup—one of several in a multicolored set. It is small, and just perfect for the bathroom sink. It’s just big enough for a sip of water in the middle of the night, or to wash down daily meds. I had not washed it since before January 1st. Before you get too grossed out I had not used it either. You see, that little orange cup is the last thing in the house that Mark’s lips touched on January 1st, before he was loaded into an ambulance never to return.

I had picked up the orange cup several times before, thinking it was time to wash it and put it away. But each time it wasn’t. I would hug that little cup, cry a little (or a lot) and return it to the counter next to the sink. It wasn’t time to wash it—until today.

Today, I washed the cup.

When my mother died, her house coat (bath robe) was hanging on the back of the door in the bathroom. When my Dad died 5 years later, it still hung in the same spot. He had given away or tossed a lot of Mom’s items, but just not that house coat. Had he lived another 10 years, I think that it may still have been there… or maybe not.

Deep, profound grief is just weird. So, keep that in mind when you wonder why grieving people do (or don’t do) what you think they should do, or what seems normal. Grief is really weird. They’re just not ready to wash the cup.

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