When you’re in pain, the doctors ask you to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Grief doesn’t go by that. There were days I was a 10, most I hovered around a 20, and currently, I sit between the two on any given day. It’s been over a year and the pain is still present.
There are no movies or books I’ve found that explain it; that there will be days—more often than not— that you forget and you pick up the phone to call them, only to be reminded of the reason you can’t. Nothing prepares you for the reality that others may not be able to process your sadness and will choose instead to avoid eye contact. People may offer condolences, but not support. All of it sucks. All of it hurts like hell. And when you get to that final step of acceptance, you’re no longer whole. You can’t be. There is still a piece of you missing.
I had experienced loss before; my grandfather, my grandmother, my uncle, my aunt. I knew that, after a period of uncertainty, I would find some semblance of a balance again. Every time I noticed their absence, I could share a funny story and revel in the time we had together.
Then I lost my other dad. I didn’t realize how unprepared I was to lose him or that missing him came immediately after. Time became a source of anger for me. How could it have slipped through my fingers like that? So quickly, too. One moment, I could tell him I love him and the next, I would have to remind myself that those calls would always be unanswered. All the experience I had with grief seemed absurd. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t rewind to a moment when I was naive to loss.
At the time, it felt like everyone just expected me to get over it—to not be sad, to talk about him less. I think because I had all these great things happening, everyone just assumed I would no longer grieve. That’s not how that works. In fact, when you’re celebrating your engagement, who do you want to tell first? Your parents. I couldn’t tell all of mine. It hits you ten times harder in the moments of pure joy that the person who would be beaming at your news will never know that you were able to find happiness after you thought you lost it.
The thing about grief that I think we all learn eventually is that no one can fix it. No medication can eradicate the pain of loss. Time can lessen the wound, but it won’t ever permanently heal. That’s okay. It’s okay to give time to the loved ones you’ve lost. It’s okay to take time for yourself. It’s okay to miss someone. Now, I realize my underlying theme is “just talk about it” for every issue, but this was the biggest lesson for me. So, share your memories, remember the moments that made it so hard to lose them—make sure their story doesn’t end by keeping them in yours.