Tag Archives: bereavement

Yeah…Facebook

When I first published Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days a year ago, I created a Facebook page for it.  Then I got tired of spending so much time on my personal Facebook page, and closed my account.  Unfortunately, that meant that I had to deactivate the book’s page as well.

Then I realized (duh) that I didn’t necessarily need to close my account entirely–I can simply stay off of my personal page (thereby demonstrating my high level of self-restraint), but still reactivate the Holding Breath page.  So that’s what I’ve done.

Anyway, if readers of this blog would be kind enough to go over to the page and “Like” it, I’d really appreciate it.  Of course, I’d appreciate it even more if you read the book, and that is my segue into telling you that Amazon just launched its “Kindle MatchBook discount”, whereby people who buy the print version of the book ($10.76) can also get the ebook for a big discount (99 cents, down from $3.99).  That way, in case there’s someone on your holiday gift-list who might be interested in reading a love story that takes place in the midst of the worst of the AIDS epidemic in New York in the late 1980’s, and you’d like to read the book too, you can get both at a discount.  Just sayin’…

Here’s the link to the book’s Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/HoldingBreathAMemoirOfAIDS

And here, again, is the link to Amazon’s page for the print version of Holding Breath, in case you’d like to take Amazon up on its kind offer (they’re like that over there):

http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Breath-Memoir-AIDS-Wildfire/dp/1480164518/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1377225007&sr=1-1

 

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This is What I Want, Too…

I just came across this on a friend’s Facebook page, and knew I had to post it here.  It’s by a woman named Zoe Leonard, an artist and member of the collective Fierce Pussy, which is also associated with Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power).  To be honest, I’d never heard of her before today (although I’d certainly heard of Act Up back in the days when I worked with people with HIV/AIDS in New York), but when I read this quote I felt that it had to be a part of this blog:

“I want a dyke for president. I want a person with aids for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia. I want a president that had an abortion at sixteen and I want a candidate who isn’t the lesser of two evils and I want a president who lost their last lover to aids, who still sees that in their eyes every time they lay down to rest, who held their lover in their arms and knew they were dying. I want a president with no airconditioning, a president who has stood on line at the clinic, at the dmv, at the welfare office and has been unemployed and layed off and sexually harassed and gaybashed and deported. I want someone who has spent the night in the tombs and had a cross burned on their lawn and survived rape. I want someone who has been in love and been hurt, who respects sex, who has made mistakes and learned from them. I want a Black woman for president. I want someone with bad teeth and an attitude, someone who has eaten that nasty hospital food, someone who crossdresses and has done drugs and been in therapy. I want someone who has committed civil disobedience. And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.”

I’m with you, Zoe.

A (Somewhat) Different Kind of Grief

As I said, I don’t want to post too many excerpts from Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days here, and the one that follows will be the last (the book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TV4CE6).  However, what I’ve written about here is a very important part of the book; when I learned about what “disenfranchised grief” is (the definition here is by Kathleen R. Gilbert, Professor and Associate Dean at Indiana University, and is the best one I’ve come across), it finally explained to me why the grief I’d suppressed to a great extent after David passed away came back to hit me like a hurricane sixteen years later.  It may be useful to others who experienced losses in similarly “unacceptable” relationships, so I wanted to post it for them:

“Nor did I have any idea that there was a name for what I’d somehow believed was peculiar to me, and that, especially in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, there were many people who had found themselves in the same position.  The term for it is ‘disenfranchised grief’; I don’t remember how I came across the definition online, but reading it gave me, for the first time, an understanding that at least I wasn’t alone in my transgression of the rules, and that I could perhaps at least start to forgive myself for prematurely laying my grief aside and moving on at the time:

Disenfranchised grief is the result of a loss for which they do not have a socially recognized right, role or capacity to grieve. These socially ambiguous losses are not or cannot be openly mourned, or socially supported. Essentially, this is grief that is restricted by “grieving rules” ascribed by the culture and society. The bereaved may not publicly grieve because, somehow, some element or elements of the loss prevent a public recognition.

Some of those “elements” might include a “relationship that is not socially recognized” (for example, partners in a lesbian or gay relationship), or a manner of death considered to be “fault” of the deceased (AIDS, suicide, drug overdose, etc.), or the simple fact that the deceased was not the legal spouse of the person left behind…

The description continues:

Because of the lack of social recognition, disenfranchised grief is a hidden grief and this “hiddenness” can paradoxically increase the reaction to loss…It can intensify feelings of anger, guilt and/or powerlessness, thus resulting in a more complicated grief response. Rituals may be absent or the grievers may be excluded from rituals…

Disenfranchised grief may lay hidden for years, only to be triggered by later losses…

That about covers it, doesn’t it? There were all manner of bereavement support groups around at that time, but none, as far as I know, were for AIDS Caseworkers Who Fell in Love With Their Drug-Addict Clients. There wouldn’t even be a good acronym that you could make up for that.”

A Song About Addiction and Love

One of the reasons I wanted to create a blog for my memoir, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days (available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009TV4CE6) was that at the end of the book I’ve included a playlist of songs that seem to me to be as much a part of the story–both of my eight months with David in 1989 and early 1990, and of the painful days of grief right after his passing, and then again many years later–as any other element (I’ve always been the kind of person who needs a soundtrack to virtually everything I do!).

I’ve wished that there were a way to just somehow insert a soundtrack into the book, as if it were a movie, but so far that’s not an option.  Here, however, I can at least amuse myself (or, in some cases, make myself sad) by inserting YouTube videos of the songs listed on the book’s playlist.  If you do read the book, listening some of the songs might very well add to the experience.  (With the exception of Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia,” which I already posted here, I’d recommend in most cases just listening to the song without watching the video itself, as the latter will probably be a distraction from the content of the book–if you’re playing it as an accompaniment to the book, that is.)

So now I need to decide which song to post today…Got it–“It’s Been Awhile,” by Staind.  It’s about the best song about addiction I’ve ever heard, and it’s beautiful, and so much of it (particularly the line about seeing the way candles light someone’s face, which is something I mention in the memoir) reminds of me of David.  Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2NGe9mLAEc

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