The tears in my eyes haven’t even begun to dry as I write this.
I suppose it’s brought on by a number of things. The reminder of my grandparents passing, the wine I drank (am drinking), and the fact that I’ve been locked in my house for over a year. But that’s grief in a nutshell—she arrives when she pleases and leaves all the same.
I’m assuming grief is a constant for a lot of us right now. Perhaps it’s current trauma—losing a job, a loved one, or grieving the sense of normalcy we all used to cling to. Perhaps the quarantine and isolation have helped you fixate on past trauma, drudging it up all over again when you believed it to be long buried.
That’s who grief is—she’s a constant entity who shows up more than we like, so you must come to understand her. You must come to lean into her cold shoulder when she visits. You must treat her as a reminder of the power of life, rather than an admonition of the pain we can endure.
She’s awful because of the things she can bring back to you, but isn’t that incredible at the exact same time? To have your experiences slam into you all at once and be transported back to a moment, a conversation, a person’s smile, the way they felt, the sound of their laugh. It’s amazing that we can forget all about it for weeks or months at a time, and in one instant be blown away by the power a moment still holds.
When grief, in whatever form she comes, visits you, I encourage you to keep a few things in mind.
Remember she is a gift. She is a harbinger of memory and reminders of lessons we’ve learned. She recreates moments that would otherwise be forgotten. She gives you back the weight to carry from your past, if only for a moment.
Remember she isn’t permanent, as we’ve come to understand permanence. She is a fluid thing that will likely return, but never in the same way and never for the same length of time. Sometimes she stays by our side for years, sometimes only for a few moments. You’ll never really know which it is, nor do you need to. Accept that she is there, for as long as that is, and remind yourself how wonderful it is to feel that deeply again.
Remember she holds no bearing over your future. She does not determine what comes next, nor should she. She simply reminds you of what was and what still might be. She does not make the decision of how you cope and what moving forward looks like—that’s on you.
Remember grief is not a definition of who you are. She might be incredibly relevant during one part of your life, only to barely be present for the next. You can recognize that grief sits with you while still living a life that is authentic to you and not shrouded in sorrow.
Grief is a great inevitability, and that isn’t a bad thing. It’s one of the most natural emotions we can feel. We should embrace grief when she visits because she is a reminder, she is a teacher, but she will also let us move forward when we wish. We just have to decide when we are ready.