I’ve been thinking a lot about grief lately, and how just when I think I’m over the hump of feeling “back to normal”, something else happens – a celebrity dies, I hear a certain song, or have 10 minutes alone in the car after its parked. I start thinking about my dad and how he would have loved the movie “A River Runs Through It” or what he would say about my fluffy orange cat. I start thinking about “No Country For Old Men” and how I’ve never watched it, yet I see it in the three-dollar bin at Wal-Mart every time I go to buy vitamins. Grief has its triggers.
My father passed away three years ago on Black Friday. I was working retail worried about waking up on time when I got the call from my brother with the vague words ringing in my ears: “he’s not doing good, I think you should come.” The only way I could have left work outside of my own health was this scenario – and it was happening to me. I sat out on the back stoop of the store and cried feeling the emptiness of loss creating a hole so much larger inside my chest – I called my family and drove to Pittsburgh in a daze. He was already gone by the time I arrived. My friend bought me French onion soup when I got home and I listened to a voicemail of him singing me Happy Birthday the year before. I never returned the phone call – and I lost the message a year ago.
How strange it is to be human. We are animals with these intense emotions that dictate how we spend our time alive – and who’s to say if grief is primal, but it exists the most in humans I’m sure. I know elephant’s mourn the lost matriarch and dogs certainly seem to miss us. This tells me grief is natural and at times profoundly difficult as a result of feeling love and joy with another being.
The older I get, the more grief I collect, because the more joy and love I’ve experienced. To separate myself from that love and joy that comes from relationships would be truly a cheap way to live.
In navigating grief we must be kind to ourselves and let the repetition come – let it come in waves, then seasons, and rest in the notion that grief will be at our side most of life. It sits on the bedside table waiting to be read in the middle of the night and on a Sunday afternoon. Grief does not discriminate or choose. I don’t know exactly how it shapes us going forward, but I do know little things seem less important and the bigger matters come to light when faced with loss.
I suppose there are five stages – but acceptance is just accepting that my whole life will have a deep feeling of loss and trying to fill it is futile and foolish. To live with grief is to be stronger but weathered and perhaps tired. I feel as though I’ve been knocked down a thousand times, crying for the dead and the living. There is no way to stand up some days – just put my shoes away and say I will walk tomorrow. Because I will, and it will be a little heavier than the day before, but my speed may improve.
Author: Rebecca L Bateson
Author Bio: Rebecca Bateson is a writer human living in Columbus, Ohio with her orange cat. You can find her making eggs over easy in the kitchen around 11pm.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @rbateson