(art by: Carmi Grau)
I’ve been thinking a lot about grief. Who hasn’t? It’s everywhere we look, especially right now.
Grief feels like a weighted blanket you can’t take off. It’s warming, even comforting in some ways—a cocoon. It is both expansive and confining.
Grief knits itself in my bones: ancestral grief, community grief, personal grief, the grief of one moment ending and another beginning. How do we make room for it all? How do we continue to live while chronically breaking open?
I’ve often felt like I wasn’t made for this world. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. It is all too much. There is grief in every moment, every breath. I cling too much. I grasp too much. I think I have control, but I don’t. Similar to my anxiety, I am often in a chronic state of grief. I attempt to “prepare” for change. I attempt to “prepare” for loss. I’ve been doing this since my parent’s divorce. I’ve been doing this since I was cheated on by an ex-boyfriend. I’ve been doing this since loved ones have passed on. But when you “prepare,” you feel the pain at least twice: during the preparation and during the actual event.
I’m a masochist, I guess.
I don’t feel pleasure from this, though. It’s not gratifying to feel grief in this way: to feel the preparatory grief and the actual grief.
I would argue you feel the preparatory pain a third time, too: during the aftermath of the event. It’s like feeling the aftershock of an earthquake. In the Wikipedia definition for “Earthquake,” it reads: “It is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves.” Grief is a sudden release of energy, of love. And we can’t prepare for it.
We don’t need to.
I have spent so much of my life preparing for grief. I have been in a constant state of baking this pain, inhaling its sweetness coupled with bitterness. But when it happens; when it’s ready to come out of the oven, I’m never actually prepared. The preparations only serve to hurt me.
Life is always ebbing and flowing. Change is inevitable. No feeling, no experience lasts forever. This is difficult to comprehend sometimes: the loss/lack of control we feel when we truly look at our lives.
Grief is everywhere inside and outside of ourselves. We can’t push it away. We can’t prepare for it. That’s a gift. We must let it come, without waiting for it. We must feel it all.
That’s what I’m trying to do, anyways.