Do we need to read another essay on grief? Type the word into a search engine and you find 81,000,000 results.
81,000,000 hearts were broken. 81,000,000 suggestions of advice. 81,000,000 names that are no longer called from downstairs, or from across the street, or when a front door is opened at dinner time.
81,000,000 is the amount of people born every year on this planet. It makes that sense that in this recycle conscious society, souls that are tired, and bodies that are cracked to the core are replaced by younger models.
Yet. Yet. Yet…nothing helps those missing the dead. And your grief is like tax; the longer you put it off, the higher the interest you have to pay.
I postponed my grief because I had no other choice. My father died the same day my brother was diagnosed with a potentially terminal lymphoma. I was his primary carer when was in hospital for four months, and at times he was so sick, I would pray to a God I didn’t believe in, as I drove the 40 kilometres back and forth to see him every day; my hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly, hard calluses grew on them like a woodcutter.
Then last week my grief rose like the phoenix after worrying about money. This is nothing new. It is not unusual to stress about money in an uncertain world, but this time, the tears sat waiting, building beneath my skin until I started to cry and now I can’t stop.
I have cried for four days and I can’t see it abating soon, but I am not trying to stop because I have to release it, or else I will drown from the inside.
It is as though I am finally remembering, and it’s not pretty. The strangled sounds of my father trying to say ‘I love you’ down the phone to my brother and I on the day that he died.
The call that he had ‘gone’ from my mother, ten minutes away from the house as we raced to get there, my brother barely able to speak from pain in the backseat of the car.
My stories could go on, but I won’t share them because we all have our stories of grief, and that’s the point. There are 81,000,000 individual and unique stories of grief, and mine is just one of them. So is my sister’s, my brother’s, my mother’s and so on. And so is yours.
But the stories of other people’s grief eventually cease to be of comfort, instead you measure it against your own, mentally calculating the weight of their loss to yours.
Perhaps my heart is so full of emotional sludge that it can only be siphoned off by writing it all down, as an acknowledgment that it happened, and a way to set it free.
While the world doesn’t need another essay on grief, there are still 81,000,000 people with 81,000,000 stories needing to be released about the pain and loss of losing a loved one.
So this is my story. It’s not the greatest of prose, nor the worst. It’s not a heavier or lighter grief than yours, but it is mine to carry until I can let it go. And I must. At some point I will let it all go and the perturbation that is powering my watermill of tears will slow, and I will find a new kind of peace, and perhaps even become wise from living the last 18 months of my life. But until then I will cry, and remember and write down the words until there are no more.