Grief is not a straight line and we often find, even years later, that we are reminded of their voice, their laugh, their smell and the waves of loss crash over us once more.
Sometimes we forget. Sometimes I wait for the smile that lights up the room to greet me in the morning. The minutes tick by and I realize that the sunshine isn’t coming. Never again will the sun rise for me to mark the passing of a new day and the promise of adventures yet had. Sometimes I forget, and in forgetting, I am drenched in sorrow anew.
Sometimes, I yearn to pick up the phone or carry on a conversation until I realize, it started too long ago and it’s a discussion that can only be visited in my mind now. I wonder, what you might think or if we can change what’s done. There is no change for you now. Only me.
Grief: emotional and mental suffering over a loss; a painful regret; deep and intense sorrow.
One day, someone will yearn for my embrace, my words and I won’t be there to hear it. Grief is not always a two-way street. When we lose someone precious, we mourn. When we mourn, we do so for ourselves, and that’s okay. It’s normal.
We grieve over an uncertain future. We grieve for the danger of faded memories in the distant past and hurriedly try to collect them all in our present to cling to what was real. We grieve for the dramatic changes that will overtake our lives and the upheaval associated with starting over again. We grieve because it is all just so, unbearably, hard.
Our loved ones aren’t there to listen to our pleas or dry our tears. We can’t sink into their arms or press our faces into a warm sweater that’s always, just right. Eventually, the magnitude of their physical presence will diminish and the newfound space will feel lonely. We can imagine their overlooking shadow, but it’s for our benefit that we do so; to extend their warmth on our setting sun once more.
Eventually, the magnitude of their physical presence will diminish and the newfound space will feel lonely.
When we feel loss greatly, you can be comforted knowing that one person’s life helped to make yours. But your story is not over and there is more telling to be had. So when you grieve, you lament the fact that your story continues without the person who was once so inextricably linked.
You also worry about things that seem so far away. What if, one day I do feel happy again? Or what if I laugh but you’re not there? Wait, is that silly? Is it a betrayal? How can I feel both, be both? Will I always feel like this? And, what do I say?
Say nothing. You can only give what you have and be who you are. Grief is selfish. It always will be your own and no one else’s. It’s yours to do with it what you will.
Fortunately, it’s not something you need to let go of. If a person matters to you, they’ve never really gone. A chance meeting in a nocturnal slumberland. An old letter. A photograph. A welcome story from a friend. A heavy, raw, open, and intricate heart. Weary but perhaps kinder and wiser.
And even when the loss is further away, we imagine the grief for ourselves. It is selfish. It’s also human. We hold our loved ones closer and ponder different circumstances. It is a great exercise in collective empathy. It is an opportunity to recognize that the fine lines that divide us are much less powerful than the strong threads of the human experience that unite us.