Grief is sneaky, like a wave. It ebbs away and for a period of time, distracted by work, life, whatever it may be, you forget that you’ve lost something precious. And then it comes rushing back. It always does. Sometimes it’s shallow, lightly splashing around your ankles – a light malaise of sadness. Other times it’s a rogue wave – knocking you to the ground, taking your breath away, sucking you under. Unseen, unheard, you can’t time the rhythm of the waves – if there even is one. You just have to roll with it even if it means some days you’re fighting just to keep your head above water.
I wrote in a previous post about losing one of my best friends this summer. It was something, despite his illness, despite losing people in my life before that I was wholly unprepared for. In the weeks following I was ragged and hollow, existing on superficiality and forced pleasantries. I had half a day off work for his wake, a day for his funeral, and I was back at it. We were short staffed and my attendance was essential. I’m not sure what having time off would have done for me anyway – perhaps given me time to “process” his death. Whatever that means. Despite that it would have been nice to stay at home in bed, hiding under the covers, shutting myself off from the outside world for a bit I suppose.
Either way, the day after his death my husband and I closed on our first home. “As one thing ends, another begins” people say. “Life stops for nothing” others remark. People (myself included) are idiots. I was overwhelmed on a level I didn’t know was possible. Emotionally I was fluctuating between completely shut down and totally raw. It’s been just about four months now and grief has mellowed into more of a numb feeling, like a phantom limb I know was once there – mobile, efficient, powerful . I have scattered photos of him and I, my husband, his wife, our friends, throughout our home as we decorate and when I pass them I do smile – weakly – because I know that’s what I’m supposed to do, what I will eventually be able to genuinely do. But for now they remind me that grief is still ever present. The next wave is building over the horizon.
Frustrating? Personal? Solitary? Communal? A bitch?
I really don’t know. I know I’m not handling it in a rational step-by-step way. I just try to weather it as it comes. The weird guilt, for example. I was “just” his friend. I wasn’t his wife. His brother. His father. Who am I to feel SO upset. To be talking about it still. The sharp anger. The week after his death people would catch me unsmiling and ask what was wrong. It was exhausting and painful to say even a clipped sentence of what seemed frustratingly obvious. But they weren’t grieving. For them life was business as usual. Yesterday was forgotten.
I don’t write any of this as a tale of a woman who is sad and looking for a hug. I write this because we all deal with these things to some degree at one time or another and it can often feel as though people are looking for us to get it together and move on. Once some time has passed we’re expected to continue – and we do – but that doesn’t mean that we’re done grieving or the loss is unfelt. The subject is not closed. It can’t be. I’m in no place to tell anyone how to deal with anything in life, but for me, I’ve always felt better putting things out there & expressing my emotions.
So for better, for worse. Justified or not. Frustrating, guilt ridden, sharp, numb, angry, sobbing, misunderstood, under-discussed – whatever it is, however it chooses to manifest itself, here is my grief four months later.