This Is What I Know About Grief

A silhouette of a woman behind a curtain
Claudia Soraya

Let me tell you, we will know destruction like water. Flowing through our skin, drowning us.

We will stay tethered to the bottom of the tub and our lungs will want to give in. The vessels in our eyes will burst and go red red red as we sink. The grief will be ruthless, and will hold you for as long as it likes — which is usually a fairly long fucking time.

You will grow weary and achy, but you will not collapse. No, your legs will twitch and your muscles will burn burn burn, but you will shake it off and stretch your delicate limbs into their furthest ends. They will grow inches long after they were told to stop growing. The growth will be invisible to anyone who hasn’t experienced grief.

But the heart warriors will see your body, newly stretched and scarred, and they will welcome you in. Will you let them? I know your eyes are strained and they can’t quite get used to the darkness. And why should they? They’ve known the twinkle of lights, the endless white abyss that sucks in every color, illuminating every sky and ground.

I know that grief is constantly, mercilessly poking giant holes into your bones.

It soaks up your marrow, seeping up and clogging your bloodstream. I know that you feel it when you walk as much as when you’re standing still. Your chest aches upon inhale, your throat burns upon exhale. It’s a steady, slow burn that crawls up your lungs and inflames your tongue.

You yelp, the vibrations of your throat muscles subtlety soothing the sting. You would yell for hours, if only to lessen the ache. You would do anything to lessen it.

If grief had an honest brain, a heart with your best interest in it, and maybe some semblance of a soul, it would probably tell you something like this:

“Are you ready to get really uncomfortable with me? I’m going to be incessant. Then I’m going to seem nonexistent. Then, once again, I will thrash and yell, and the anger is going to be volatile. You’re going to want to avert your eyes, but please hold my gaze.

Your eyes will be leaking, your cheeks puffing, but don’t you dare try to clean up the mess. Not yet. The cure for my incessant pain, is the pain itself. Crawl up inside my sharp corners and roll around in my unsavory core. Make yourself a home inside me. Nothing too cozy, as you won’t be staying long. Walk through my halls.

Walk on the goddamn walls. Once you’ve memorized the path, stomp stomp stomp through each room. Come out on the other end, bloody, muddy footprints now making up the entirety of the previously shiny linoleum floor. Come out on the other end and touch your fragrant skin. The sweat is sweet and darling. The sweat will set you free.

Let my sticky, oozing tentacles engulf your little limbs, and render them completely useless. Let me take your breath, return it sharp and shallow. Let me bruise you thoroughly, no piece of skin left unmarked.”

I know that grief tricks you into thinking you can get over it. Tricks you into thirsting for the jaw to bite down already just so you can feel the sweet release. But there is no release. There is only the callouses that form over your delicate skin.

Eventually, though, the grief will start to wave and ripple. You will undoubtedly survive each wave, and the salt water will stop stinging your lungs.

You are tender rage and gutted yearning.

You are the softness waiting in the afterglow of fright.

You are the architect of your wreckage.

But you will never defeat grief.

Because you are so much more than grief, it wouldn’t ever be a fair fight.

I’ve learned that missing someone is just the beginning of grief. I’ve learned that comfort comes in varying shades, but none of it will ever make me feel complete again. Because I’m not — I’m in pieces. And I will live this way now. But I’ve learned that the giant grief i’m living with is in direct proportion to the giant love I gave him.

And what else could I ask for, if not to be wholly certain that I gave him the best love, while he could still feel it? I know he can still feel it. TC mark

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