For the longest time, I kept wondering how grief worked. Was it crying and eventually you don’t cry enough? Or was it a full-blown depressive episode for a month or ten and switching it off to be at work? Was it a hug here and a cry there and a treadmill here and a roller coaster there? Or was it my sister telling me, ‘It’ll all be okay’, not believing a single word herself? Was it going to be like the show ‘This is Us’, beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time?
Picture copyright - Alev Neto
In all of this, I never asked what I’d be like in grief. What my friends would be like? What would it be to not have you around? It took me a long time to figure some things out. So if you’re reading this, know this:
On day one, you’ll phase out, you’ll be numb enough to not know how to cry. In ten days, you’ll find yourself wailing, sobbing, and trying hard to catch your breath. In fifteen, you’ll hold their things in your palm not knowing if you should hold on to them to remember them by or not, only to not hurt yourself every single day. In one month, you’ll feel a lot less numb and clueless about life. In two, you’ll be wondering how many places are going to ask you for proof of their death, slowly twisting the Swiss knife in your chest to remind you of it. In three, you’ll be at a quiet table and trying so hard to listen to your laughter. In four months, the people who called to check in on you will stop. In five, you’ll be at a quiet table trying so hard to listen to your laughter. In six, your family will ask you to get on with your life and you’ll struggle to tell them, it’s not a halt but it’s fallen apart. In eight, you’ll still be trying to make sense of your life without them. In nine, you’ll stop looking at the door hoping incessantly for them to come back. In ten months, you’ll be done with the paperwork and everything will seem fine. In twelve, people will forget what happened eleven months ago. In fifteen, you’ll doom scroll, and suddenly a random puppy video will break you down. In two years, you’ll cry less, you’ll zone out less, yet, nothing will seem to fill the gaping hole in your chest. Spoiler alert: maybe none of this will happen for you in your journey of grieving; maybe yours will be shorter, or longer than this. Maybe ours will never end.
I know you’ll stretch your hand out to hold them, and you’ll realize they’re not coming back, no matter how desperately you hope they do. And you know what, you’ll actually be fine. It’s said that grief is but unexpressed love. I disagree. I mean, how could you, especially when it’s been deeply expressed? After all, Vision said it best, what is grief, if not love persevering?
Maybe grief is just tears trying to fill the void left behind in their absence. I wish grief was possible to be escaped from; not a necessity to navigate your life. I wish it wasn’t an isolating and lonely endeavor.
More than anything else, I wish there was a timetable, a systematic way to move on in life.