Grief is not an emotion. Grief is a time of feeling every emotion. It’s a time of feeling blinded to everything else; seared raw by the white light of the beloved soul’s final flare.
We are caught unawares, no matter how expected, in the flash, then the fallout from the ending of a personal epoch. When we lose someone to all the unknowns of death, life takes on a different light and the light of grief is stark and sharp and changes perception. Grief gives you blind sight that cuts through the superficial with its piercing white light, revealing only what matters most. The light is white because it’s made not of one feeling or mood, but of every feeling, every emotion. Each one in the spectrum entwining and rising with seeming randomness.
Grief rolls in waves, sometimes gentle and other times a tsunami. A force of nature, it’s sometimes fast and whips like wind, other times moving slow and deep, as the quiet earth. Ever present, grief forces you to attend to it, holds you captive in its white light until it’s ready to let you go.
Words come out wrong, no words can make anything right. Yet words are all we have to give voice to our immeasurable pain.
What then must we do to get by?
Words are never enough but you must speak them anyway – they help a little. If you cannot say it, write, write it all out.
Create your own memorial and let the wind blow it away or light candles in honour of your loved one and watch the flames dance.
Being still can be difficult, but take time for stillness anyway; time to listen, just listen. Then move again and be with others, not too much alone. Grief is a time that all must live through at some point and come to understand.
Achingly present, so painfully present, grief is over-sensitive and hyper-aware but that’s precisely what keeps the love raw, strong, and alive. Laugh one moment and dissolve in tears the next. This is what it is to be fully alive in your senses, your body and emotions. The loved will live on as you continue to love and learn from them.
Talk to your loved one in your mind, tell them everything and be patient when the answers come from new places, in new ways and in different voices. The answers to your pain will not be the ones you want to hear – the known, the familiar, the obvious antidotes to your suffering. They will not be satisfactory but they will be real, and they will get you through a moment, or an hour.
Michelle Moran wrote of moving through grief:
The test of our character comes not in how many tears we shed but in how we act after those tears have dried.
Reflect on what your loved one lived for, the best parts of them, what they gave you. Distil your loved one’s best qualities through your soul into a powerful elixir to flavour all things you do. The darkness outside is because you carry their light inside you now. You are more for loving them, you are more for knowing them, let their light shine through you now and always.
Dedicated to the memory of Mr Jimmy Tunks.