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When it comes to grief, there’s very little to like.
Other than grief being a moment by moment reminder of how much you cared, how much love you were able to hold in your heart, it honestly sucks.
Over the years, I’ve said goodbye to people, places, relationships, and experiences. And it’s been hard—every time.
I’ve buried and attended funerals and memorials for people I could never have imagined not being in my life. For people who loved me and helped raised me and pushed me to grow.
I’ve moved, sometimes willingly and sometimes not, from places that I used to call home. Places that held memories I longed to hold onto and places that would always be a reminder of difficult times.
I’ve walked away from relationships that I truly believed were meant to be. Relationships that shaped my view of love and friendship and showed me who I am and what I deserve, or don’t deserve.
I’ve left jobs and experiences that I once thought were exactly what I wanted and needed. Experiences that ran their course and experiences that flamed out in ways I couldn’t have seen coming.
With each of these endings, I expected the sadness. I expected the random moments that would reduce me to deep, uncontrollable sobs. I expected the pain—the emotional pain but also the actual physical pain that builds in your chest when you think about what you’ve lost, what’s been taken from you, what you’ve had to leave behind.
Anyone who’s ever grieved a loss knows that that sadness and pain can hit you without warning. And it can dissipate just as quickly.
But there’s one thing about grief that still feels unbearable to me.
Yesterday, I came across a video about grief that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. TikTok user rachel.eve_, who has been documenting her grief journey, described the aspect of grief I struggle with the most:
@rachel.eve_ Feeling into sharing my grief journey again. if you relate to this, I’m so sorry ? #grief #griefjourney #siblingloss #sister #dissonance #whatislife ♬ Sparks
“My big sister died about seven months ago, and I’m curious if anyone else can relate to this.
I don’t have an issue with the intense sadness that comes up sometimes in my grief. You know, like just bursting out in tears or screaming or crying. Like, that is doable to me cause it’s like cathartic and you get it all out and express it all.
I find the subtle dissonance, day to day, of remembering that she’s not alive to be so much worse. It’s like when I’m just out and about and I get a twinge of like, ‘Oh, I wish I could call her’ or ‘I wish I could tell her this’ that makes me want to jump out of my skin.
It’s so dissonant…I hate that feeling. And there’s no release in it cause it happens often, like when I’m working or I’m out in public or whatever and it’s just this subtle feeling of like, ‘This is my life now.’ And right next to me is what I wish it was and what it will never be—and that just makes me so crazy.”
I feel it in my stomach every time. The shock. And then the longing.
The moment you realize that your goodbye was permanent. Forever. That the life you thought you’d be living, the relationship you thought would last, the person you thought would be by your side will never be your reality.
There’s your life before grief, and then everything after. And even though the logical part of you, the part that understands time and endings and that whole circle of life thing, kicks in quickly, there’s still that moment—the moment that happens in the millisecond it takes for a sharp inhale to become a resigned exhale—where you hope beyond logic that your goodbye was just a dream.
For some losses, the shock and longing is short lived. Maybe you realize fairly quickly that the place or the person you left wasn’t right for you, that the job or relationship you walked away from didn’t fit the life you wanted.
But for other losses, this unbearable feeling can linger. And like Rachel Eve explained, there’s no release in this feeling. No tears or screams or rage that can move this feeling through your body.
There is only that moment between your wish and your reality. The moment you remember the life you had and the moment you return to the life you’re in.
And sometimes, that moment can feel infinite.