I'm in the nesting stage of grief.I am sure that many or even most of you paint chairs or hang curtains all the dang time. But for me, this is a big deal. I'm not known for being crafty or handy - in fact, I am known as being exceptionally un-handy - and that reputation is not entirely undeserved. As a teenager and young adult, I definitely messed up a few DIY projects I undertook. As time passed, I just sort of accepted that I am not someone who does things like paint walls or furniture. Even when I saw a project I thought I could do - and would like to try - all by myself, I'd remember that I am just not someone who does projects, and I'd move on.
But one of the things that's happened to me since my son Henry died is that I feel like I've lost all fear of most things that used to hold me back in life - not just the big stuff, like taking on corrupt politicos, but the little stuff, too. Since May 31, 2010, I find that I am just more willing to say, "Ah, what the hell, I'm gonna go ahead and makeover Henry's bedroom into a special space just for me, whether anyone has time to help me or not. I'm going to do it all by myself." Or in the case of this week's fearless DIY project, "I'm just gonna go right ahead and spray paint that chair a bright cherry color. What's the worst that could happen?"
Grief manifests in some funny ways. Last year at this time - as the one year anniversary of Henry's hospitalization (which started on April 27, 2010) and eventual death (May 31, 2010) drew closer, I was doing everything I could just to drag myself out of bed every day. I had only just begun to emerge from my emotional widow's weeds. Henry's Garden coming into bloom in that first April since his death gave me comfort, but I wasn't really doing anything to it, beyond pulling weeds. Not much digging or planting. I just sat in there a lot.
This spring, however, I am almost obsessively active in working on and expanding Henry's Garden. I've also begun a complete overhaul of the outdoor space comprised of our wonderful front porch and small, city-sized front yard. Our porch and yard are special spots for our family and friends; we spend a lot of time out here together. And as it happens, the last time I ever saw my son before the beating and overdose that killed him, we were hanging out here together on our porch, where I am sitting right now, typing this and listening to Neil Young.
I know that many women experience a nesting compulsion as the birth of a baby draws near, but I've never heard of mothers experiencing "grief nesting" after losing a child. But that's what I have had going on lately, starting with the room makeover I did with Henry's bedroom over the winter. Essentially, I find that I have just been almost obsessively drawn to creating better, prettier spaces in and around our giant, old Victorian, especially when the spaces remind me of Henry.
- By Katie Allison Granju
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Katie GranjuKatie Allison Granju is the married mother of five children, the youngest of whom was born June 27, 2010. She also also blogs at Mamapundit.com. She works full time in digital media with a large cable network. When she isn't washing someone's socks, she enjoys listening to power pop and Americana, riding horses, and engaging in political debate.