“They” say grief comes in stages; shock, denial, anger and sadness. It seems like a simple tool, one that is so easily read out of a book or brochure. It seems easy to be shocked, then deny, get mad and then cry. In our own heads it would appear as if we could just run through the emotions, get them over with and then move on. What isn’t in a brochure is how long each phase lasts, how to cope with the phases, and how painfully slow they can each be. “They” also don’t talk about all the millions of other emotions that flood our souls in a time like this. There are emotions that can’t even be described, ones that don’t have a name, and those who can’t be easily listed on a pamplet. Instead…
Grief is raw, it’s carnal, it’s an explicit wound that is exposed to a searing burning air.
Pain and sadness is the last thing I feel before going to bed and the first thing I think about when waking up. Sadness is in my deep in my husband’s eyes, even when he tries so hard to be strong for his family. Pain looks up at me through my childrens expressions even when they don’t fully know what is going on. Daily life has turned sour and tasteless. Being in public, watching those who run through life as if it will never change, is like a constant itch that can’t be scratched. Eating has become a monetary and habitual chore that is done just so it can be marked off the to do list. Our lives have become like a dream state…..a surreal world filled with robotic actions. The inevitable and the future is like a movie unraveling in slow motion that is a relentless and torturous burn.
We don’t know when this will be over. There is no answer on when we will have to put to rest someone we so deeply love. It could be tomorrow…..it could be in 6 months. Some say it’s good to know so that goodbyes can be said. I’ve yet to decide if I agree. Knowing is a slow torture that our hearts can’t quite comprehend. Trying to prepare and accept the future is difficult when we don’t know when it will start. How do you help and comfort someone who knows they have an expiration date soon? How do you deal with your own grief and needs yet respect theirs when death is knocking at the door? How do we all live the next few months and function when there is a big black cloud hanging ominously over us? Why is there no brochure for that? Why are there no answers?
We all have to die some day. We live knowing this, but we don’t really worry about it until we get much older. It doesn’t control our lives or cause us too much anxiety. It’s an inevitable ending that no amount of science or technology will save us from. Dying from old age is easier. Knowing someone lived a full life and died peacefully in their sleep is sad but acceptable. However, tragedy is not so easily understandable. Dying young or in middle age is more difficult to accept. Why does a good person get cheated out of time with their kids and grandkids? Why do my two little boys get cheated out of time with someone they love so much? Why do good people die young every day while horrible monsters live to be 100?
Maybe not knowing is better. Maybe the truth (if there is one) would be too difficult to accept. Maybe nobody knows….
I know this pain will be around for a long time. I know that healing will happen some day and that for now I will have to embrace the pain and take what it has to offer. I know it will affect every aspect of my life… my work, my family and my friends. But I hope that in the face of tragedy there will be good. I hope that in those final moments and in the future the reason will become abundantly clear and that when we look up into the stars we will know that our lives are better because of tragedy.