The Problem With Grief

The problem with grief isn’t the grief itself.

It isn’t the black hole that opens up outside the hospital in the smoking area as they tell you the brain tumor won the fight this time. You miss his bear hugs—they only exist in photos now.

It isn’t the hotel buffet breakfast when the mobile rings and echoes off the plates and you know that it can’t be good news. You can’t face watered down orange juice or soggy cereal for weeks after that, and you inwardly choke on your tears and toast every time you realize she’ll never make egg and soldiers for breakfast again.

It isn’t always the inevitable death or the sudden decline, it’s all the carry on that comes after the pain. It’s the sob that catches in your throat because you shouldn’t cry in front of the children—“Stay strong,” they say, “for them.” Yet we soothe their tears after a temper tantrum at school or a squabble with their friends.

The problem with grief isn’t the grief itself.

The problem is our avoidance of it at all costs. Put on a brave face. Take three days of compassionate leave. “Get an early night and eat something—for god’s sake, you need to eat something!”

The problem is years later, when their favorite film on TV suddenly makes you cry. Except you should be over it by now, shouldn’t you? It shouldn’t hurt quite this much. The trouble is you can’t get over something you never had a chance to feel in the first place.

The problem is our lack of trust that all the crying, screaming, and grief that demands to be felt might actually be what we need to heal so we can start to move on as we know they would want us to.

It’s our denial that grief may exist in the moment as it happens. It’s our rush to carry on with our lives, as though death itself may come after us too, guilty by association. It’s our own heart that years from now, on a bus or round a dinner table, will break out with the words or tears you never let out.

The problem with grief isn’t the grief itself.

It’s the fatigue cracks that we paint and gloss over that bring down the plane 20 years later. A badly patched up heart never heals at it should.

And so the problem isn’t with grief, it’s with us.

Just hoping to create something bigger than myself.

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