The Problem with Living



On Thursday it will be three years. I never expected to still be around. Time doesn’t heal all wounds but it changes your emotional terrain.

A couple of weeks ago, I considered living for the first time.  I was experiencing a patch of happiness that felt like peace.  Naturally, I had to question this. It made me feel guilty and shallow. I forgave myself the guilt and contemplated the prospect of living the remainder of my life as if it mattered.  Living on purpose, not just because I can’t bear to hurt my husband.

It occurs to me now that this is what Max was contemplating. He wrote that he wanted to wake up in the morning and feel like living, not just to avoid hurting his loved ones, but as a choice for himself. He gave up hope that this could happen.

I feel more hope than I did when I was going around looking for someplace high enough to make a successful jump. I feel like I could conceivably find a purpose in life and make a commitment to seeing life through to it’s natural end.

But then I would have to worry about all the stuff that people worry about when they want to live. I’d have to worry about cancer instead of mocking those people on the Cancer Center commercials who want so badly to survive. I’d have to worry about my bad cholesterol, which is sky-high. I’d have to worry about dementia and social security and losing my hair or teeth.

I’m just not sure. I’ve been hovering between this world and the next, trying to cultivate a saving level of numbness. Love can break through, and it does. Maybe instead of jumping off a roof, I can jump into life. It’s a new idea. It’s somewhat threatening. But I plan to explore it.


This entry was posted in grief and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to The Problem with Living

  1. Harmreduction says:

    Thank you.
    I am wiping the tears of joy from my eyes.
    I have been waiting, hoping, and believing in your ability to find this juncture.
    You can always change your mind,(hopefully briefly!) and, find your way back to THIS!
    You are my idol.
    Thanks, Mommy.

  2. Muscato says:

    You are a brave writer, and you’ve been handed, unwilling, the bitter challenge of exploring just how strong you can be. Those two things, together, whatever else they may be, are a gift to the people who read your work. Words are never enough, but sometimes they’re the only thing there is.

  3. M says:

    I love your writing. When I starting following you I had to go back and read it all so I could ‘get’ you. I laugh and cry at your posts. Don’t stop. Love M x

  4. sharnek says:

    Thank you for being so honest.

    S x

  5. Marie B. says:

    I never comment but I was so relieved by that glimpse of hope you percieved on a blessed moment that I want to express my support and the strong hope that the new feeling you described so well comes back soon. I know how it is to feel cut off from life. I have recovered, my wounds are closed . That is already a big gain. Please do take the first step back into life. It will take long but it will be rewarding. Trust yourself and the people you love. You have a loving nature. Your beloved son would have wanted it this way. Courage, courage. Love MB

  6. Sam says:

    Today at this moment I cannot imagine feeling any of the emotions you describe, not yours or the ones you said Max wrote about. Sometimes though i get it , but right now I don’t have anything heartfelt to say except, go on, jump back into this world, it’s not perfect, but it has got its good points. xxx

  7. Suebob says:

    Life. It’s what’s for dinner. Or maybe that’s beef.

    Keep on, my woman. I highly recommend watching this video and listening to this song,

    which I swear saved my life at one point. It is so fucking ridiculous. I wrote a post about it here –

    Love you.

  8. Darque says:

    Yes. As someone who has to be reminded this all the time- give yourself permission to poke through the pain. Keep going, see what’s there.

  9. Suspended says:

    ’twas that didgeridoo!


  10. deb* says:

    Kia kaha

  11. Beannie71 says:

    Please jump into life. You are valuable.

  12. Kellie says:

    I am thrilled that you have stuck your toe in the water!!! Do it for a while, and see how it goes.
    even if it just happens occasionally-that joy thing-it is so much better than NEVER.
    And as for the cancer, and later potential issues-we can tackle that later. When its an issue.

    End is always an option, starting fresh isn’t. One has endless possibilities, one has none.

    We will just keep on, and see where it goes.


  13. Andra says:


  14. ali says:

    Best news! We need your beautiful brain.



  15. ali says:

    I think zombies say the same thing. Hope that’s not a reflection on my relationship to your blog/tumblr. haha 🙂

  16. Cricket9 says:

    There is this blue and white poster “Keep living, we need you” on your front page. I’d like to change it for you to “Start living again, we need you”. And don’t worry about worrying about all that stuff people worry about. Not obligatory, I swear, and if you don’t belieive me, just ask Andra – right, Andra? 😉

  17. jean pierre says:

    hardly know what to say…
    you are irrepresible inspite of yourself.
    it is such a great honor to know you and
    bear witness to your spirit. my love for you ….endures!

  18. Sandra says:

    I am happy to hear that you feel like sticking around for the sake of sticking around. There are still some good bits left, even if a bit that was very significant to you is now elsewhere and inaccessible for the moment.

    Surely you can do the Living thing without all the excessive worrying? Wigs are fun, everyone gets cancer eventually, and people with dementia get looked after by cheery Jamaican nurses and get to finger paint all day.

  19. Andra says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Cricket is so right. Worrying is a total pain in the arse. What is, is. Shit happens. Life is now. Just do it!
    Love, love, love.
    Feel it!!!

  20. Dana says:

    I never read Hyperbole and a Half until its return was announced on salon. The return post is such a brilliant description of depression. Note the character is a young woman, not a fish with a horn. Anyway she and Muscato and Suebob and you are all such brilliant artists and that’s all we’ve got. You’re contributing to making life somewhere between bearable and sublime and you are all so appreciated. Xoxoxo

  21. Sally says:

    Welcome Back.

  22. Beth says:

    “But then I would have to worry about all the stuff that people worry about when they want to live. I’d have to worry about cancer instead of mocking those people on the Cancer Center commercials who want so badly to survive. I’d have to worry about my bad cholesterol, which is sky-high. I’d have to worry about dementia and social security and losing my hair or teeth.”

    I know this person, Sister. As soon as I hit this paragraph, I heard his voice as I read it. Shivers up my spine.

    I almost started to weep, because if he said all this, I couldn’t even imagine what it would feel like. I assume something close to happiness, to hear this from someone I love more than anyone else in the world.

    But it’s your voice. The happy tears are for you, Sister. Keep going.

    On a P.S. I know this is corny, but thank you for still writing for all of us to read. Thank you.

  23. Lauren says:

    I’ve been reading your posts for a long time now, but I just felt the need to comment today. I, too, lost my daughter and coincidentally on the same day but in 2006. I know what you mean about choosing to live. I remember feeling the same way when I was drinking a diet coke and thinking ‘Should I start caring about aspertame now?’. HA! I still don’t, but it’s strange to actually anticipate the rest of your life after years of taking it one day (and sometimes one hour) at a time.

    You made today a happy day for me.

  24. yes says:

    yes to this post…I mean the way you questioned continuing to live because it means facing old age.

  25. Sister Wolf says:

    Lauren – I’m so sorry for your loss. Let’s never care about aspartame. xo

  26. Sister Wolf says:

    All of you who wrote comments here, I didn’t expect such support and encouragement and it is amazing to me. I am so touched by your kind words. While I can’t promise anything, I will try to stay on a forward-looking path. xo

  27. Anonymous says:

    Wow–I just found you and this is the second post I have read. I am so sorry for your loss but feel so lucky already to have found your writing.

  28. Jenny says:

    A great day! I am so happy for you. The world needs you and I think Max would approve 🙂 xxx

  29. mbpmbp2 says:

    i miss my grief-thats what i lived for -the pain was my identity – i feei i will start to forgetl -i feel like ive already lost the acutness and its turning into a dull ache which i sometimes can ignore and i dont want to ignore it-what will replace my keenig-there isnt anything i can think of that i want to replace it with
    i want to desperatly miss him-i want to punish myself for being the one that lived-he was better at loving life,eating it drinking it fucking it-me iwas just along on his ride and now im completly stopped and really dont have anywhere to go.child friends cat naturally curly hair even-all it gets me is one dead husband-i am furious yellow!

  30. Sister Wolf says:

    mbpmbp2 – I hear you. Loud and clear. Me too, much of the time. xoxoxo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *