good grief

When I feel stuck, I write. It's my therapy, my process of understanding. I don't even know where to begin, yet I already have. I'm sick of loss, I'm sick of sadness, and I'm sick with frustration that I can't fix it all. "Grief is a solo journey," my best friend reminded me. This is true. I suppose this is why I feel so distanced from everyone. Grief puts us in such an empty place in the world. I feel I'm lost in my own thoughts, because we all process things differently. I can't even talk about myself. It feels selfish, and yet, I need to. I need to understand.

I'm a feeler. When I grieve, often it is more for those who are grieving. I always want to know what they're thinking, how their hearts are aching, how they feel about knowing that life will be different from that moment on. Life is profound. We learn through experience, and the impact of loss can alter and shape us forever. I'm no pro at dealing, but I know I've experienced plenty. Grandparents, cousins, friends, coworkers, neighbours, pets. It's a lot to take in, but it has taught me so much. I know that my reaction of acceptance can sometimes be taken as if I don't care, because it is different than what is expected. That's where it hurts the most. Grief comes in all shapes and sizes. With and without tears of sadness.

My first loss was my grandma. She practically raised me, as my second mom, my source of understanding, my example, my cheering team, my supporter. I was 15 when I last saw her, and for years, I felt it was impossible that she was gone forever. It felt like a cruel magic trick, a weird sort of disappearing act. For years, my dreams deceived me into believing she was on vacation and bound to return, or that I'd need some sort of potion to bring her back to life again. I'd call her home phone number, to hear it ring, to wait for that voice to be there and say it was just fine. I deceived myself for years. I didn't know how to let go. I didn't know how to accept it that death is permanent, and life isn't. It shook me hard.

I was angry, I was sad, I was depressed for years. I went through a million emotions, until I finally followed the advice of my mom. She said to shine. She said to celebrate. She said to laugh and remember the good times. From my perspective, at the time when it was fresh, I thought this wishful approach seemed damn selfish... and kind of annoying. I thought, how dare you take away my sadness and tell me I should be smiling? It definitely wasn't for her to say, but I now appreciate the courage it takes to do what she suggested. Shining in the face of loss is a method of survival. It really has helped me through the years of so much at once. Thank you, mom.

I was lucky I didn't see my grandparents age. They were only in their 60s/70s when they passed; so I never saw them whither or experience anything with their health that altered who they were and how I remember them. Their deaths were quite sudden, and so I never had that chance to say goodbye. I've come to accept that I don't like goodbyes. I don't think getting to say it changes anything in regards to closure. I know that for years after their absence, I at least wanted to say thank you. To let them know how much they provided to me while they were here. I can't change that. But I can take what I've learned, and I can treat the ones who are present, with love, honour, respect, and devotion; so that when they go, I can say there are no regrets. It has altered many of my relationships, as I appreciate every single day that we are all given.

I mended a lot of my relationships with my family. We experienced some really horrible things together, and for a while it broke us apart, as we healed at our own pace. I feel that the beauty behind loss and heartache is that it makes you stronger. My mom always focused on this fact, and it helped me embrace the tough times, for what they'd show me later on. I feel I can face a lot of tough things that most people don't know how to process. I feel like this, sadly, keeps me at a distance from those who expect differently. I can't get them to see what I want them to see. It can only be done on their own time. I can only listen, be that shoulder, and offer help when needed, and remind them... I'm there. My heart is heavy with love, and it wants to be shared. Grief is a closed process before it can open up to the world again. I wait.

I'm learning just to keep quiet and be patient. Like my mom, who sat at the foot of my bed, after my grandma died, hoping just for a minute that I'd return; to see me smile, to hear me laugh, to watch the colour come back to my tear stained cheeks, to watch me run outside with my arms open again. It was never easy for her to sit back and wait for it. I get that, but it takes time to rejoice in the face of loss. One of the toughest things about feeling joy again is that there's a sensation of leaving the lost behind. I'm glad that I see joy as part of the process of life and death. I know my grandparents would never want me to spend a lifetime grieving over their passing. I choose to celebrate what I ever had, thanks to them.

My mom taught me such a valuable lesson, I feel that when I am faced with a world where she is no longer there; I'll know how to take her with me. This gift is tremendous. I really feel it is the most valuable lesson that has helped me deal with the realness of life. Meditation also taught me a lot about life and death, as I used to fear death to the point of panic. I didn't like the idea that it is inevitable that I'll one day be gone. People will be left behind. I'll be spoken about, remembered in a way I'll never know. It makes me think about how I live out my days, how I treat the people around me, how I focus my energy. What do I want to leave behind? What would I want to do with my precious time on this earth? I suppose loss has helped me reflect on what I need from myself, while I'm here. I can't control anything but right now... so here I am. I'm okay with knowing one day I'll be gone. Life is beauty. Live it fully with the time you're given. Now is all we have.

In my neighbourhood, there are poppies blooming everywhere. I see them as a massive symbol of remembrance. They remind me to stop, take time, and remember all that has been lost; and all that has been gained in the process of experience. I used to see my grandma in the shape of a tree, because she said it was what she wished to return as. That's lovely, and that image keeps her close to me no matter where I go. To my grandpa, who showed me the night sky; the stars will always remind me of the twinkle in his eye as he shared his glorious knowledge and imagination. So many things in this world keep the losses in a place that can never be taken. I'm grateful for memories, I'm grateful to remember the people who have made up my life. Everyone comes and goes. Love is what never dies.

Tomorrow would be my grandma's birthday.
I will celebrate.