After the death of a beloved, there comes the task of stepping out into a world that seems not to have noticed the gaping loss in your soul.
Where once you had three, you now have two. Where you once had them on speed dial, now their phone is disconnected. Where once this someone was the only other person in the world who knew that thing about you, now there is no one. There is an empty chair at dinner, a missing member of your tribe.
Years ago, the sister of a friend died in tragic circumstances. She told me she left the police station and wanted to scream at the people in the cafe next door, all smug as they drank their coffee and lived.
‘My sister is dead you arseholes, put down your coffee, bow your fucking heads and stop the goddamned clocks,’ is what she wanted to say.
Instead she went home and let the waves roll over her until she thought she would drown.
I asked the Good Doctor how is it she doesn’t cry in her therapy sessions with grieving clients.
She told me she does, just not in front of them. This is why I love her so much.
Over the weekend I read an essay by Madonna Badger about her coming to terms with the loss of her three daughters and parents in a house fire.
It’s a painful read, as she is real and raw in her loss and subsequent breakdown but she did come to a place of healing. There is enormous scar tissue but she survived.
Grief isn’t an illness, it’s a process and for many, grieving never really ends. You just get used to living with missing them.
A few weeks ago I had such an overwhelming need to see a beloved friend who died too young from cancer. She was the best of the best; a sunny, bright, beautiful soul who was too easy to make laugh. I cried at my frustration of missing her. It’s been eleven years and the grief is still there in the background.
A way forward is to find a new relationship with your beloved who has passed. But how? Symbolic? Imaginary? Spiritual?
Whatever gets you through the day, I say.
This morning I talked to my girl about death, and about the anniversary she is experiencing today of the loss of her beloved friend two years ago.
She asked if I remembered the days my friend died in similar circumstances, if I honoured them on these days, all these years later.
I shook my head. ‘No but I never forget her birthday. I do something on these days to be present, to respect that I am here and they are not and I must do whatever I can to experience and love, for them and for me.’
I think she understood. A little. Maybe. I hope.
Time is an odd construct, I reminded her and that she doesn’t need a special day to remind her of the loss, it’s with her every moment. BUT there will come a time when the loss turns to a quiet gratitude at having her friend, even for a short time, in her life at all.
Grief is just love with nowhere to go.