Crying doesn't satisfy, though. You end up with a nose so stuffy your body aborts the mission -- "Mayday, mayday! Abandon ship on the higher emotions because we aren't getting enough oxygen up here!" Then the bottled-up anguish collects around your brain as a crust of unsavory biochemicals, and, bam, one side of your cerebral cortex is a rotten melon oozing with maggots and the pain is so excruciating you'd like to get at a machete so you can hack it off. It might work to scrape away the worst bits, but the toxic mold has probably already spread its spores to the other side and they are going to go off in a minute.
So there are no rational and tidy ways to clean up after grief -- no easy 12-step program (Denial. Check.), no modern social customs to ease the burden (wailing mourners for hire). I was sure for three days during the week they stopped feeding Grandma that if I could just get my hands on some real Victorian mourning jewelry I would feel better. I bought some genuine jet beads and hand-knotted a necklace; I did web searches for terms like "cabochon" and "bog oak", but these were only distractions and Grandma died just the same.
Idealism gets tangled up in there, in all the tiny beads and the pocket packs of Kleenex. The imaginary Grandma who did not have Alzheimers and was secretly even more wise and analytical than the Grandma I knew probably had lots of coherent things to say which I will never get to hear. Only the Grandma in my head can say those things now, and it's possible she's the one who's been saying them all along.
The mind plays tricks. When a white-haired person stepped out of the hall and into the hubbub of the post-funeral supper, the corner of my mind thought, "Oh good, Grandma's here now. She shouldn't miss this." And I reflect that the human life span is shorter than our brain capacity would seem to require -- what, bow out now? Don't you want to see how everything turns out?
Crying still seems like the only option, although crying all alone seems too solipsistic and unproductive, and crying with other people seems like barking up the wrong tree. There is only one person who would really "get it" -- the affront of this loss and the nuances of what it all means. There's one person it would be great to talk it all over with and work through it and while we're at it, figure out the rest of the family. Oh, wait a minute.