Hard and Clear

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Someone once said to "Write hard and clear about what hurts". And so I will.

Grief hurts. And I've been extraordinarily lucky in that I have not had too many close experiences with grief. I have not had any immediate family pass away until now. And I have had the immeasurably valuable time to grieve ahead of time, for we knew it was coming.

I will tell you — oh yes, it hurts, like it will never heal and the feeling of being lost, with no direction. My first instinct was to call my father, tell him I needed to come over for a coffee and a chat and to get a load off my chest. Unfortunately, he is the person I lost.

And what a stupid choice of words, for the amount of ridiculous words used each day that we could not come up with a better term than "lost". He will not be found, nor has he been misplaced. He is gone, not lost. His memories will be so sharp they will hurt, so sharp they are like hallucinations. So sharp they slice into my life and leave a gash across that social circle, that routine with him, that comfortable silence that is no longer.

I know there are scientists that have carefully researched and catalogued the individual stages of grief. You can google grief and see these little step by step charts, like an ikea bookshelf, with arrows and "symptoms" for each. They missed a few in my opinion.

They missed that moment that comes when you first wake in the morning, just after dream and before reality, where your loved one is still just a phone call away.

They missed that gasp when you empty your voicemail and hear their voice like a ghost beyond the grave, and the urgency to save that voice, to play it on repeat until you know every word and every pause.

They missed that elbow to the gut when you speak their name out loud and add "deceased" or "passed away" to the end of the sentence, like every time you say it aloud you cause it to become just a little more permanent.

And they missed the misunderstanding everyone seems to have about grief. I need it to be said that I am not depressed. I will laugh and smile and I forget for moments, and I laugh with my children.

And occasionally I will have a good solid cry about a spruce tree or lifesavers or scallops or whatever. There is no obvious reason for this other than a memory which triggers me to remember again and there is no way to predict when it will happen next. Don't look at me like I am sick and tell me to "feel better soon". I will not take a pill and be 100 per cent, because I will change into someone new, because my circumstances and circles have changed.

I will grow with grief, like a slight poke to the side whenever I take someone for granted, and will remember the importance of the little things. I will slowly adjust to my new life, not "forget and move on". I will remember daily and it will be less painful as time passes, but bear with me through the painful moments, for they are the most important.

We as a culture don't talk about grief, we whisper about death, we don't talk about the logistics and the details. I think we are making things much harder for ourselves than it needs to be. I have discussed my children's births so often that it becomes routine. We don't have the same acceptance for grief and death.

It hurts. Hemingway knew it, he encouraged others to talk about hurt. We should. And I will because there is so much more to say.

 

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