This Is What Grief Truly Feels Like

Andrew Phillips
Andrew Phillips

No one told me grief was so disorienting.I fell asleep in a fluffy bed with a pillow top comforter. I could smell flowers and Japanese cherry blossom lotion. I could see my dark room as my eyes adjusted. My little blue room was exactly where I wanted to be. Exactly where I wanted to be. I felt safe.

A sharp, stabbing pain flew into my stomach and has never left me. I woke up on a cold, hard floor. I woke up to no smells, distant sounds. I woke up in a bright room and the light hurt my eyes. The light hurt my eyes. I felt lost.

My stomach churns and my mind wanders. Why is school important? Oh, yeah. I have to get a career started. Why is work important? Oh, yeah. I have to make money to support myself. Why is supporting myself important? Oh, yeah. I have to help other people. These reasons seem to come to my brain too late. I’ve thought of the correct answer, but I’m already skipping class. I’ve thought of the correct answer, but I’m still in bed well into the afternoon.

I wish my senses would come back. I can’t seem to hear anyone. They tell me that I’m going to fail my classes. I can’t hear them. They tell me to pay attention to what I’m doing. I can’t see. They tell me to wake up. Aren’t I sleeping? Isn’t this one huge nightmare? I can’t seem to wake up and smell the roses. This isn’t actually happening. Why are they lying to me? I can’t breathe. Why is this air so polluted? If you would just come back here and show them that you are fine, they would stop lying to me. They would stop telling me to believe you are gone. They would stop telling me to give up on looking for you. I won’t ever stop looking for my friend.

What stirs inside of me? It seeps into my bones. They call it anger. I can’t point my finger at anyone. That makes the anger, seemingly an entity in itself, hotter. My words spew out of my mouth and I know anger has taken over. I lash out. People who love me are so distant especially when they stand right in front of me. Stand right in front of me. What is wrong with me? I hate my room. I hate to be around people. I don’t understand this fury raging inside of me.

Now I feel like I am talking to the ceiling, talking to the clouds. I am talking to God. Aren’t I? I’ll give anything. I’ll give anyone anything. If someone would just let my friend come back. Please. My friend was here and then there and then gone. Days, weeks, months pass by and I don’t notice. I cannot see what is in front of my own face. I cannot help others as well as my friend. Can I give my belongings? Can I give my body? Can I give my soul? Why won’t someone pay attention to me? Pay attention to me! I’m trying to say something. This is important. I will give my life for hers.

I can’t get out of my bed. My head lies on my tear stained pillow and I can’t move. I can barely lift my remote to turn on the television. I turn comatose. Did I sleep last night? What time is it? The clock says one in the afternoon. I’ve lost all concept of time. One in the afternoon. I guess I missed my class, again. Oh, well. I put my mask on for the rest of the day and night. They can’t know I missed my class. They can’t know that I don’t care I missed my class. They can’t know. It’s so much effort. My phone rings. I don’t answer it. I don’t look to see who is calling. I don’t call back. It’s effort to lift my head. So much effort.

They call it acceptance. I don’t know what that means in my life. The definition of the word itself is not at all confusing. What confuses me is how I make it applicable to this situation. I’m supposed to accept that I will never see someone again. I will never hear that person’s voice. I will never get to feel that particular hug. My senses are dulled. People talk at me. So many people are saying things. Why are they talking? Well, what else is there to do? Nothing. They have no answers, but neither do I, clearly.

How dare you leave me here? Wait. I can’t be so selfish. How dare you leave all of us? I see the pain and suffering it brings. Your absence has not gone unnoticed. Songs, books, stories, movies, television shows: all laced with an unforgettable thought of your disappearance. Like a Venus flytrap watered by tears, the anger does not subside, but grows stronger with every wave of sadness.

I want to remember you how you lived. I don’t want to remember how you left. That part is never very hard since I still can’t even wrap my head around your death, honestly. I tell people what they want to hear. I tell people what will make them feel comfortable. I don’t make morbid jokes with people I don’t know very well. I feel like that will make them uncomfortable, making the situation uncomfortable.

Actually, of all the emotions, uncomfortable is not so bad. I know that. However, making something small into a big deal is sometimes better. It makes me forget that I am so sad I can’t stand it, that I am so angry, I can’t stand it. Even after almost two years, I can’t stand it. So, I whine about having to get up for work. I whine that I don’t have anything to wear. I get enveloped in drama that is not mine. I hate that.

I pace back and forth, back and forth, and get nowhere. When I am feeling that I can “get past it,” it starts all over again. Then, I am left completely breathless. They say “Get past it”, “move on”, “feel better”, all jokes. It’s a cycle that, I hope to God, will stop, but it sure as hell feels infinite.

People ask me about you. They ask me different things. I try to describe what you are to me, our friendship. It’s difficult, to say the least. I just tell a story. I am left with memories. Things are changing at home and you should be here. You should’ve been here for our sisters’ senior year. You should’ve been here for our friends’ weddings. You should’ve been here for birthdays and Christmases and Thanksgivings. You should’ve been here. You should be here. People ask me about you. I know how to honestly convey how much love you were able to give, and not just to me, but to everyone. I think that is what I miss the most, the love that you were able to show me.

I keep holding on to this writing, expecting for a conclusion to come to my brain. I realized that I could be waiting for years. I don’t have a conclusion. There is not a conclusion to this story yet. I know that’s okay. It’s okay if I don’t know the end yet. It’s okay if I just keep working. I need to keep working. I need to keep listening. I need to keep living as well and as long as I possibly can. TC mark

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