There are days like this, where grief wraps around me like a blanket of deep sorrow.
Where I get tired of being strong and slogging through life without my best friend. I get tired of finding the blessing in her loss, in appreciating what she gave me when she was here. I want her here now. I want to call her and pour my heart out to her and have her pour her heart out to me. I want my friend, my Heidi, and no one else will do.
There are days likes this when grief lives, when I am tired of seeing loved ones descend into horrible progressive illnesses with seemingly no cure.
I am filled with rage that a horrible illness took away my dad's mind before it finally took his body. I get so angry at a health care system that cannot cure my loved one. It kills me that every day for her is a struggle with no hope in sight. My rage at seeing a beautiful person robbed of hope and a future just fills me up with an abiding sense of hopelessness.
Sometimes the flip side of grief is rage. Rage at all that has been taken from me and my loved ones.
And it may sound like self pity, but sometimes I just have to sit with it. Because it comes unbidden and it seems there is nothing to do but wallow through it.
There are days like this when being strong seems exhausting. Where hiding in a hole seems like the best thing to do. But, somehow I just keep living, knowing that I am not alone. There are millions are out there dealing with similar feelings. But somehow, this thought also fills my heart with sadness.
And in our culture, we rarely make space for grief. We go to a funeral, we move on. Someone has an illness that robs them of things, mentally or physically, and they are expected to just keep moving on, hiding the grief of all they are losing. Often, especially for the latter, there is no community supporting them. They suffer alone. People are frightened of reaching out and often, don't know what to say. So, they don't reach out and the grieving person is left to suffer alone. Little do people know, that sometimes all grieving people need is a listening ear, a hand to hold, or even practical support, like meals.
We learn to be stoic and not ask for help -- to hide with our pain and put on a brave face. Then, we learn to numb out, knowing that it's not acceptable to express our pain. There are no circles of support and many flounder, adrift, and sometimes turn to substances to relieve that pain. We have few rituals to celebrate and suffer through our grief together. There is little acknowledgment that grief is a spiral and there is never closure.
But, some days, things turn around. The rage abates. The grief lies there in the background, but not as prominent. And even on the hard days, there is beauty. There are small blessings, like the beauty of snow. The laughter of a suffering loved one. Even when the grief feels like it will swallow me whole, there is a small light that keeps me making small steps to honor those I have lost, or make change for those that are still alive and suffering. My grief will never die, but I do my best to feel it, while learning and growing from it.
I will not deny my heart the strong grief that sometimes engulfs it with sadness. My grief teaches me how strong I love. It teaches me how strong I can be, even when I don't want to be. I refuse to find 'closure' because, for those of us who have lost someone we love deeply, that grief never goes away, we just learn to live with it and appreciate what we have lost.
Knowing what I know about grief, I try my best to reach out to those who are grieving, even if when it's uncomfortable. Life is impermanent, unpredictable and sometimes tragic; which really sucks. But, sometimes I have to just find a little sweetness, a little light to grab on to and keep moving. Some days, there is no sweetness and little hope and all there is to do is feel it, knowing that the feeling may pass, even when the tragic loss does not change and the pain comes back without warning. The human heart is strong and sometimes all we can expect of any given day is to just keep living, embracing all the pain, the grief, the laughter, and the joy as they come, without expectation.