There is so much I can say on this topic. If you’ve ever been curious about my experience, don’t be afraid to ask. I actually find it healing to talk about what I went through and to try to help others understand what it is like. I believe that the more I share, the better equipped the world would be to help those around them who may be experiencing something similar. I know that death and grief are intimidating topics. I also know that American culture in particular has neglected to integrate said dialogue into our society in a way that is helpful. Which is a shame. After all, every one of us will experience death at some point in their lifetime.
Some people describe grief as something that comes and goes. I would argue that what actually happens is that your brain says, “okay time for a break” and then goes into sleep mode. It’s not that the grief has dissipated, its more like your brain sometimes isn’t operating at 100% efficiency because the grief is too much to bear. When I was actually able to string together words in a discernible way, sometimes I would write. It felt important, those thoughts that I would have in my darkest times. Here’s a little snippet of something that I wrote to try to describe exactly how my grief was manifesting in me physically. This was the very first piece of writing I could muster in my very early grief stage:
I am an uninvited passenger on your path through the rest of your life.
I came in to fill the empty space that once was your husband.
At nightfall, I am summoned quietly as an invisible vapor seeping in through every crevice of your body.
As I settle inside, my thousands of fingers scrape their long pointed nails against the underside of your skin, causing an unbearable discomfort that is inescapable.
I occupy the space inside your lungs, to choke you and suffocate you,
the way a cancerous tumor would.
I riddle your mind with questions that have no answers.
Slowly, I ooze from your tear ducts, burning your eyes and face upon my exit.
I swell around your corneas, blinding you from the goodness that is ever present all around you.
As I release myself from your physical body,
I leave behind my gift to you,
I bestow unto you,
I am with you now… and forever.
Who am I?
For me, nightfall was the worst time of the day. I became afraid of the sunset, frightened knowing what was coming next. Looking back, I think it was because the evenings were when my late husband, Jesse, and I would spend our quality time together. With him gone, it was physically painful (nearly impossible) to exist during that part of the day. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or function in any semblance of what was necessary to sustain life. Those times were the hardest and most certainly the loneliest.