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The Skinny on Grief: You Can Either Go Through it, Or it Can Go Through You

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A few weeks ago, I woke up at three in the morning and scared myself silly. Not because of the time; I have the internal clock of a rooster, so I'm used to getting up in the wee dark hours. What I'm unused to is turning on a light. Don't ask me why I did it that day, but I did. Big mistake.

I flipped the switch, saw myself in the bathroom mirror, and promptly toppled back into the tub. Who in God's name was the crinkly-eyed, hollow-cheeked witch staring back at me?

She was still there four and a half hours later (with a nasty bruise on her tailbone to boot), when I bent down to kiss my twelve year-old goodbye. He ducked, dove for the door, and shouted, "Mom. Make-up. Get some!" as he sprinted off to catch the school bus.

I don't know about you, but it's been my experience that if a man, even a twelve year-old man, notices you look that bad and actually says something? You are way beyond make-up. Seriously; not even the good stuff department stores sell can save you.

Three days later, my Mastercard and I sat waiting for my favorite dermatologist. I no longer kill time in the examining room reading the Restalyne, Juvederm, and Botox brochures. Frankly, I have them memorized. Instead, I play with the magnifying mirror. I furrow my brow, squint, and smile so hard I'm surprised I don't snap a tooth. The point, of course, is to make sure the lines in my face are screaming "Stick it to me, baby!" when the doctor comes in.

No need to do that this time.

He walked in, gave me a hug, and told me how sorry he was to hear about my husband's death. "You look a little drawn," he said.

"I know, right? Right here," I smiled really hard, like I practiced, and pointed to the lines around my mouth. "I'm thinking filler."

"Filler's good," he responded, looking from my face to my forearms. "Or you could try food."

Excuse me? Did I miss a brochure?

"I can see the veins in your arms," he continued.

"And this is a problem because they're not the right shade of blue?" I quipped.

I've known my dermatologist for years and our typical appointment is comprised of the following: three minutes spent bantering back and forth about how I don't need him and should leave because really, why waste my money when I couldn't possibly be more beautiful, and another minute during which he tries not to laugh while I pull at my face and bellyache about my advancing age. The final minute of this five minute preamble to both of us pretending I'm going to look ten years younger is spent with him looking really closely at my forehead, eyes, cheeks, and lips, and going, "Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh," before dashing out of the room and returning with a handful of needles that, if they were going in my arm I'd flip, but the fact that they're going in my face doesn't faze me a bit.

This particular appointment was taking a little too long to get to the injectibles portion of the program, and the food comment had my hackles up. I eat. Of course I eat. How dare he suggest I don't eat.

When was the last time I ate?

"Forget my veins," I said, crossing my arms and wishing I'd worn long sleeves. "I need to do something about my face. I'm in the middle of a book tour and I'm starting to look like The Scream."

He laughed, and I laughed, but it wasn't funny. The truth is that I wasn't eating. I wasn't sleeping, either. I worked around the clock, and when I wasn't working, I was working out (including the morning I spent icing my tailbone).

Somewhere along the way, I made the subconscious decision to run from how sad, sick, guilty, and flat out angry I felt. Well, newsflash folks. You can either go through grief, or it can go through you. And if it does, it gets the upper hand, and you get a face only Edvard Munch would buy a book from.

"You have a grief counselor?" He asked.

"Yeah. I think I'll call her."

It was a fine plan. So we celebrated with a little filler.

Visit Amazon.com to purchase my book, 500 Acres and No Place to Hide. You can also find me on YouTube.