There are things I know logically: I will survive. Suicide isn’t an option. Adversity invites growth. Time will heal. Good things will come again.
However, grabbing onto logic, platitudes, and even what I know to be true at the expense of denying the powerful force of grief is not a position I’ll take. I’m not saying I’m at the mercy of my emotions so much as I surrender into them. I respect my grief.
Why does a baby wail upon birth? Because of the separation. One minute she was swimming in the ocean of love, completely connected to her mother, safe, protected, warm. Suddenly, without choice, but simply due to the nature of life, she’s forced into a new dimension. The air shocks. The light burns. Everything feels foreign. People surround her with love, wrap her in comfort, and confirm she will not die. Still, a newborn baby wails her way into this world. She must learn new ways of being. She will never again swim in her favorite ocean.
I was swimming in the ocean of love. I’ve got five decades on me. I’ve been blessed with love before. I’ve had my heart broken before. I’ve grieved death before. Back then, I tried to survive, buck up, be strong, and move on as quickly as I could from the pain. I did my best to deny. I said things like, “What doesn’t destroy me makes me strong.” IE, BE STRONG! I assumed crying was weakness. I said, “My mother dying is no reason for me to stop living.” True. Yet, it was a reason to grieve and I resisted giving into it. I didn’t know how. Besides, American society applauds one who rises quickly.
I’m not in such a hurry now. Maybe because I see the scars on people’s hearts as obvious as the tattoos on Mike Tyson’s forehead. Saying it’s not there seems absurd.
People worry that I’ll wallow too long, as if there’s a time frame. Sometimes, I succumb to the desire to snap out of it. Mostly though, I give in to my grief in the same way I gave into my love for Kevin. My instinct was to avoid the potential for pain. Kevin said, “I want you to embrace our love and let the warmth overtake you.” I did. I embraced my deepest feelings even when I was scared.
Isn’t that why we as a society resist grief? We’re afraid. What happens to a baby who doesn’t sing (or scream) her song of grief upon being hurled into this new world? All kinds of emergency measures are made.
When we don’t sing our song of grief when the music of life calls for it, the grief doesn’t dissipate. It waits for its turn to scream. Knowing this, the pharmaceutical companies offer antidepressants. And antidepressants if you’re on antidepressants, but you still feel depressed. It’s like planting seeds in winter. Depression can arise from suppressing grief.
Grief and depression aren’t the same. I’ve danced in the darkness of both. In this season, I see grief as the work of planting the seeds for my future. My tears of today water the tiny little sprouts of tomorrow.
Grief may be the opposing side of joy’s coin. The coin can’t be cut. So I sing my song of grief. I dance with Kevin in my kitchen and let his love seep in. The warmth overtakes me. Yet, the physical separation is real.
This is a new world I’m being born into. You will hear me wail.