A friend of mine has died. Mike Raub. Some of you may know him (many here on Pop Culture Squad do). He was a well-known and respected comic book retailer in CT and a radio broadcaster and he was my friend. He became my friend when I moved to Connecticut because Mike Gold was my friend and the two Mikes were very good friends so I was just accepted into Mike Raub’s circle. I went to his house, his parties, his shop, we went out to dinner—he was friends with my late wife, Kim. He was 67 and that‘s too damn young to die. I don’t know who among the Powers-That-Be thought that this was a good idea but they were just plain wrong and it pisses me off.
March is a hard month. Winter drags its heels on its way out and spring is mostly a rumor. One season dies and another is about to be born. My late wife, Kim Yale, died over two decades ago on March 7, a bit short of our tenth wedding anniversary. My father died about 50 years ago just after the Ides of March. So I’ve had some experience with grief and loss.
I don’t think any two people go through grief in the same way. No two people are the same. At best we walk parallel paths; some of what I experience may match what you experience. That’s what we do when we write; we share notes. What do I know that’s like what you know? So here, for what it’s worth, is what I think I know about grief.
Your world ends. Your future stops. Kim and I were supposed to grow old together; she and I had talked about it and we both figured I’d be the first to go. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way. But I then had no vision of what the future would be. I couldn’t see it; I couldn’t sense it. It showed up anyway but different from what I thought. Your world changes.
It’s okay to be angry. Angry with God (if you have a god) but also angry with the deceased. You may feel abandoned. It’s not fair, it’s not reasonable, you know they would have stayed if they could but nonetheless they are gone and you’re not and you have to deal with that. So it’s okay to be angry about that. It will pass if you let it.
It’s okay to be tired. If it’s been a long death and you’re the principal caregiver, you may be physically exhausted. I wound up sleeping a lot especially in those first weeks after Kim died but that also was hard. The bed was strange now. Exhaustion took me. Mixed in with the grief of losing Kim was a relief and guilt for feeling that.
There is no correct way to grieve. You feel what you have to in order to get through it, you do what you have to do to get to the other side. It used to be that, in polite society, you dressed in black or wore armbands for a year and that actually is not a really bad idea. That first year is tough. Things are raw.
It gets better but it never completely goes away. And it shouldn’t. If you loved the deceased, you should grieve them. They’re worth the tears. It does ease up and you can live with the emotional hurt just as you live with the physical aches and pains as you get older.
I’m probably not telling any of you anything you don’t already know. That’s okay. I don’t make claims to any greater insight or wisdom than anyone else. This is just one of the ways I grieve. I try to put things into words; I’m a writer and that’s what I do. Right now, I’m missing my friend. You lose a friend, you lose a bit of yourself.
You were my friend, Mike Raub. And I miss you.