After a few days where grief was as pressing and present as the ground beneath my feet, I’ve been trying hard to put it back in its place, to shift the tilt of my landscape and let in a little more sky.
It can be vivid, all consuming, but it is not everything. On many days it is not even an anything. It does not create – it’s only a sigh, the soft fall of breath.
And yet grief’s ache becomes comfortably awful; the familiar false-friend I complain about but never quite stop seeing. It keeps on coming around again and there is a security in that, a certainty that is seductive when all else is in doubt.
Grief is a burden that starts to feel like part of me. And I’m trying to quiz myself on whether and when I need to carry it, to ask what share is really meant to be mine, to feel it when I must, but leave it when I can.
Grief can get to be a habit.
Of course, the human heart thrums and strums with many threads and ties. It is not easy to untangle its strands, to know what hurt leads where. Emotions are not easy to file or filter. There is no index, no reference. We all start from scratch, translating ourselves from notes in empty books.
Grief at least gives the impression there is cause and effect. He died so I mourn, mope, try to cope. It seems like a straightforward logic.
It’s true that bereavement is a bit of an embarrassment, a tea spill on a smart tablecloth. But at least there are set conventional things that can be muttered, platitudes to be laid out with the biscuits and choked on.
People at least think they know what grief means, what it should look like. As such, it is a word that can be hung on many hooks. It fills awkward pauses, explains headaches, crumpled tissues and cancelled lunches.
There are many despairs, many sadnesses, that are harder to speak, trickier to name, and they sometimes seem to morph and merge into this one defined definite loss that has stolen my father’s name.
There is a danger in that. When I call something grief there is a tacit assumption that what is wrong cannot be fixed, only endured. I take no responsibility. I only grieve and wait for the wind to change.
Perhaps in that stasis unhappinesses hide that would be better fathomed, felt, and floated out. It is far too easy for unhappys to slide into normal, to come to feel natural, neutral.
So on some days, I will weep. I will let myself be drenched in the sadness of the rain, but I won’t make that visit back into black a regular trip.
On other days I’ll ask – what is in the heart of this cloud? What do I really feel? How can I get to happy from here?