June 11, 2023

The Haunting Honesty of Grief.

Nobody ever tells you how to fill up the space when you lose someone.

How to replace this void that was once so vivaciously alive and full. How to make sense of the silence. The emptiness. Nobody ever tells you because you can’t fill the space. Replace the void. And there’s no making sense of the silence. It just is.

Grief comes in waves. Small ones. Large ones. And overwhelmingly suffocating ones.

I slept in your bed last night. The bed you shared with dad. He hasn’t slept in there since you left, 10 months ago. He says it’s because the single bed is easier to make, but I know that’s not true. I know that he just can’t sleep in there yet, alone. The last time he slept in there was the night before the ambulance took you away. But when I visit, I sleep in there. It gives me a sense of peace. A sense of closeness that maybe you are there lying next to me. That maybe your essence, your energy, is still there, in that bed, in that room.

But all physicality of you has gone. And as I lay in the dark, with the softness of your bedding all around me, I close my eyes and I’m able to see you. See you fill that space like you used to. Larger than life, with an effervescence that radiated from you. It’s bittersweet being here. So close to where you once were, yet so far from wherever you are now. Truth be told I find it a little hard. Reminding me of what I had and what I’ve lost. Sometimes I see you in my dreams and I can hear your voice. Feel you. They seem so real, those dreams. Memories of you flooding me. Washing over me, memories and grief. Love and loss.

I went to watch the sunset. Something I always loved to do when I visited. There’s something so special about the sunset over the lake. There was a magic and beauty about this one. The colours in the sky were soft with hues of pink and orange. It reminded me of you. Grief is such a strange thing. It engulfs you and fills you with such despair, but at the same time there is this haunting beauty because of the love that’s attached.

I know I’ve suffered a profound loss. The grief has become part of me. In the beginning it’s such a force, like a heavy weighted blanket thrown over me. Some days I’m able to slide out from under the blanket and other days I just stay there, trying to survive. It’s okay to have those days. I’ve learnt not to fight grief because she’ll always come back until you’re ready to face her. She needs to move through me, and when I allow her to be felt is when that heavy weighted blanket becomes a little lighter. I know we don’t stop grieving; we simply grow around our grief. Slowly. Painstakingly. Like riding a roller coaster. Up and down. Round and round. We feel it in our body. We feel it emotionally. And we feel it spiritually. We feel grief in the core of our being.

Grief. Nobody can escape her. We will all meet her at some point.

It helps to understand her. What she’s reminding me of. What she’s teaching me. What she’s triggering in me. I always feel a little lost after I leave your place. A nudge that she’s still there, my grief. Like a love letter from a past love, filling me with feelings, of everything that was but is no more. A gentle reminder of all that is in my heart. A gentle reminder that my life is different now and I need to adapt to this new life without you.

I can laugh now about funny moments of the past. I can talk about you and your way of getting under my skin. I can think about you without getting upset. But I still cry. I can be reminded of you at the weirdest of times in the weirdest of places and will be unable to hold back my tears. Sometimes I sob. Some days I’m on top of the world and my energy is at an all-time high. Other days my body feels your loss in every cell of my being. I’ve learnt to sit with that, acknowledge the enormity of my loss, and accept there will be days like that. It’s made me realise that my grief is a gift. Your final gift to me was insight—that I can use my pain to support and serve others.

I open the blinds and a glint of sun streams in the room. Your room. I can hear dad in the kitchen. He’s kept the bed just as you liked it with the pillows and cushions. I open the drawer of your bedside table, but it’s empty now. All your medications gone, and whilst I hated all those tablets you had to take, I’m now saddened they’re not there with your name printed on their little labels. I close my eyes to stop the tears; I don’t want dad to see me cry. But one forces its way out and rolls down my cheek. I have two pictures of you in my head, one of you before your last hours and the one of you in your final moments, and some days it’s hard to reconcile those images. But that’s okay because that’s my love and my grief. That’s my heart feeling everything it needs to feel. That’s the human condition.

I walk out to the kitchen and I see you, the portrait of you and dad, hanging on the wall. He’s attached these butterfly figurines to the frame because he knows butterflies were your favourite. You looked young and healthy. And I’m once again reminded of the fragility of life.

We can never understand loss until we face loss, a depth of loss that will leave you winded. Battered and bruised. But to lose someone means we were once blessed enough to have them in our life. To miss someone means we once held that person close. To grieve someone means there’s love, and even though someone is gone, it doesn’t mean the love is gone. It doesn’t mean their energy is gone.

It was your time to go, and whilst I wish it was different, it isn’t. You carried me for nine months. You gave birth to me, named me, and raised me. You always loved me and did the best you could with what you knew. You were my biggest supporter, and I will be forever grateful. I am a part of you and a part of you lives through me, my brother, our kids, and your great granddaughter. A part of you will be forever in our hearts because that’s how grief works. It’s the loss of the person not the loss of love.

And whilst we may eventually let go of the loss, we never let go of the love.


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