A good bit of the meager amount of content posted to Uncle Crappy recently has been about grief, specifically about how I’ve tried to deal with the death of Juan two plus years ago.
That came up again this week, as I returned to Columbus for a day or two so I could help Juan’s mother go through stuff — some of which was his — as she prepares to downsize from her condo to a smaller apartment.
We had a good day. It was sad for both of us, but we laughed a lot … especially at the number of red Solo cups she had stashed with her Fourth of July decorations. It was a productive day, and Mary is closer to being ready to hold an auction for the stuff she can’t take with her.
If you put any credence into Kubler-Ross stages of grief — they are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — I’d say I’m solidly in the acceptance stage in relation to Juan’s death like 90 percent of the time. There are still little moments when that’s not the case, but for the most part, I’m at peace with his passing.
Here’s a thing I haven’t mentioned on Uncle Crappy: I’m on strike. Have been for seven months.
And it’s a struggle.
Money is tight. We’re super busy fundraising and taking care of other strike stuff. It makes finding the time to hold down a side gig a challenge.
And there is the added stress of what’s going on at the PG. A bunch of my colleagues decided that going on strike wasn’t for them … and they crossed the picket line (which is pretty much virtual these days, as most are working remotely). So the PG’s site is still getting updated. The daily e-edition still lands in inboxes every day. And, twice a week, there is still a print edition.
That’s frustrating as hell, boys and girls. Our best guess is that if the Steelers beat writers, for example, had come out, the strike would have been over in a couple weeks, rather than stretching past half of a year. And it is annoying to watch those people work and enjoy the salaries and benefits that the union, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, earned for them.
But here’s the bigger thing: I’m struggling with what this means for me. If the strike were to end today (spoiler alert: Not likely), I’d go back, but probably not for long; working at the PG no longer feels like my dream job.
For a while — and as recently as most of last year — it was. I had a fantastic editor. I worked with great people. And the atmosphere in the newsroom had recovered from the pit that it landed in in 2020.
For me, that’s all gone. Forever. And it’s sad and aggravating all at once.
I’m in therapy. This situation I’m in occasionally feels desperate enough that I needed to talk with someone about it. And last week, she said something that really struck me.
My ranting was kind of all over the place. Do I go back? Am I done with journalism? Why did this have to happen? Is it time for a new job? What do I do with all of the opinions about what course I should be taking? WHY, for fuck’s sake … WHY?
“You’re grieving,” she said. “You’re mourning what you had there before the strike.”
I stared at her face on the screen. And it dawned on me that she was exactly right.
So let’s go back to Kubler-Ross and the stages of grief. It’s important to remember that they’re not necessarily experienced in linear fashion, which is why there are days when it feels like I experience anger, bargaining (with myself — the company isn’t especially good with bargaining) and depression simultaneously.
My therapist told me to do something that addressed the idea I was experiencing grief because of this shit show. This is it.
I think I’m past denial. And I’m a loooooong way from acceptance. But maybe, with some more work, I’ll get there. Soon, I hope.
Believe me when I say there’s a bright light at the end of this horrendous tunnel. Mine happened when I was working for a company that I loved. Loved! I moved up very quickly (10 years) and truly loved going to work.
They filed for bankruptcy. I was devastated. I was depressed. Yes, I was in mourning.
It was just a job, right? Nope, it was ingrained in my heart.
I blinked and an opportunity was dropped at my feet. This opportunity turned out to be the best ‘job’ that I could have ever imagined.
When I looked back, I still missed the good things about that former job but realized it wasn’t what identified me. I didn’t want my new job to identify me but that would prove to be impossible. It did. And I loved the identity that I earned and loved from that ‘job’.
I’m now retired. I wouldn’t have changed a minute if the difficult times because they made it possible to appreciate who I am.
You rock! You’ve got this! You’re identified and appreciated by your beautiful family and friends.
I’m keeping you in my prayers. Believe that, my friend!
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