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What Grief Really Is to Me


Grief is weird.

If you’ve never been through it, you just can’t understand it. Of course grief can come with crying and depression, but it comes with a lot of other stuff, too. Grief is like a medication that has 100 different side effects, only it doesn’t come with the small-print label to tell you about all of them. It affects everyone differently.

Grief Doesn’t Care About Time

I lost my mother four months ago. To the non-griever, four months might seem like long enough to get on with your life. One hundred twenty days might seems like more than enough time to get your shit together. But to me, it seems like simultaneously the longest and shortest time of my life.

On one hand, it seems like just yesterday I lost her. I vividly remember sitting next to her when she took her last breath and the chaos that followed the next few hours: my dad and I lying next to her bed sobbing until the funeral home came to take her away; the overwhelming amount of messages that kept blowing up my phone; and the horrific feeling that my mother, my best friend, was gone forever.

On the other hand, though, these last four months seem like an eternity. I haven’t seen my mom in four months. One hundred twenty days. Two thousand eight hundred and eighty hours. Before she died, the longest I went without seeing her was two weeks. I never went more than 12 hours without speaking to her. It has only been four months. But I have the rest of my life to live without her, and sometimes I don’t know if I can do it, because these last four months have felt like four years.

It feels like I’m living in the twilight zone, going through the motions of life with no sense of time or direction.

As I said before, to the non-griever, four months might seem like quite a while. In my experience, after the first few weeks, some of the people in your life start to forget the trauma you just endured, and they expect you to go back to normal. You can’t use grief as an excuse for being late to work or canceling plans, because no one understands. They’ll say, “It’s been four months. You can’t dwell on this forever.” That may be true, but grief just doesn’t go away overnight.

Like I said, grief is weird.

What Grief Really Is

Aside from fucking up your perception of time, grief can fuck up a lot of other stuff, too. Stereotypically speaking, someone in mourning might feel like a crying sack of emotions. For the most part, that’s true. But, that’s not all grief is.

Grief can be a heavy feeling you get in your chest and stomach at any given time, making you feel like you’re suffocating. It can happen when you’re driving, at work, out with friends or just lying in bed. Remember, grief doesn’t care about time.

Grief can be a hatred of others who aren’t grieving. I can hardly look at a woman my age with her mother without getting furious. Why does she get to keep her mom and I don’t? I can’t tolerate anyone complaining about their mother either. Don’t complain about how annoying your mother is, because at least she is still around to annoy you.

Grief can be the feeling of wanting to run away. Sometimes I think if I could run to a faraway place, maybe, just maybe, I would feel better. But like time, grief doesn’t care about location, either. I could go to Poland and the pain would still be there, but it would come with a side of pierogies. I would still feel just as grief-stricken in a city 5,000 miles away from home.

Like I said, grief is weird.

Grief Is Just a Pain in the Ass

Grief can feel like a persistent person who just won’t leave you alone, like those people who troll celebrities on Twitter for having stretch marks or a stray eyebrow hair. It’s always there, no matter the time, place or circumstance.

I’m sure one day I’ll feel better. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel better, but maybe next week I’ll fall apart. But for the near future, I’m stuck with this pain in the ass known as grief, which will continue to wreak havoc in my life from time to time, fucking up my perception of time, emotions and relationships. And it’ll happen when I least expect it. You know why?

Because like I said, grief is weird.

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Thinkstock image by AntonioGuillem