Like struggling for air at the bottom of the sea…
Like not being able to see your own hands you know so well for the mist shrouding your own mind. Clouds of consciousness swirl their way across your eyes, half memories mixed with a sense of sorrow yet joy. Thank God I can remember you; I see you in my dreams a lot recently and I know you are rooting for me. I am back from the shadows of my mind now; I sat the demons there down to tea. I told them I’m not scared of them anymore because there is no fear quite as intense as losing a loved one, nothing as insidious as watching illness slowly take them from you, the demons they listened and even they tried to comfort me. Even their claws and snarls seem gentle compared to the endless void of grief. I hope you don’t mind my mind rewinding memories of you and twisting them a bit, so I wonder if they are true. I keep opening my eyes and forgetting you are not here, and that is the hardest part.
I just want to make you proud and I finally feel re-aligned with my soul path, that is probably why you are watching isn’t it? You taught me everything I needed to know about what is coming next and I am forever indebted to you. If dreaming is the only time you choose to visit me then maybe it would be easier for me to just sleep all day and night? At least then the anxiety can’t chase the hours down as I blankly stare at the spot you once sat, trying with all my might to summon you here, even for just a minute, one minute more on this earth so I could say goodbye once more. There’s times it’s all I can think of, the ticking of the hands on the clock seems to drag on for an eternity as I run through every single moment I would change to maybe, just maybe have saved you even just a little bit of pain. But then other times I feel so caught up and elated, flying so close to the sun, and just like Icarus my wings they singe and the guilt of almost filling the void you have left becomes so real, tangible, and back to earth I fall.
I think the best advice I received about navigating through the sludge thick skies of grief were also some of the harshest words I have heard. Simply, it doesn’t get easier. I know that’s what they tell you but really it doesn’t, you simply just learn to adapt and move on with your life with the extra weight lying on your chest at night. That brought me a strange sense of comfort that I can’t quite quantify, just, it really is ok to have a small cloud follow you around for the rest of your life. It’s ok to fully embrace that there will always be that piece of your heart that was buried the same day you lost that person you cherished oh so much. It is a whole that will never be completed, a void never to be filled and as soon as you realise that it’s a fruitless pursuit, that is the only time you feel a small bit of relief, for me anyway. So wrapped up in trying to imagine and capture something that is gone forever will only lead to torment of the memories you hold, it’s nice to remember the past but to dwell there is a dangerous existence.
For someone who doesn’t believe in Heaven it’s hard to listen to others telling me that you’re still with us, you’re watching over me, you’re in a good place now. I can’t find peace in faith but I find it humbling that others truly believe that is your fate, the hope and positivity they show after your passing gives a quiet sense of meaning. I believe that whatever your spiritual following in life may be, that is what becomes of you in the end, if you believe you are destined to a Christian Heaven, if you believe you are to dine with Kings in Valhalla, if you believe that your soul will become part of the universe energy pool to then reincarnate itself in another life form, all beautiful beliefs fitting to pure hearts, and I find peace in believing that as it is written it will become the truth.
I have run out of tears to cry. I have run out of places to hide. My wings they’re tattered and frayed.
With the words you told me day and night, cradling my anxious mind, your voice, your face, your heart and soul, they all live within me. Memories are the most precious commodity when paying off sorrow, cherish them but don’t feel sad when making new ones. They’re not replacing the ones you once had, they will be yours and only yours forever. Only, you owe it to your heavy heart to try and live the life they wanted you to live. I’m sure they are promises you made, challenges you accepted, silly comments and passing ideas caught in fractions of time. Your time is still now until you too shall become one with the Earth. Take the sadness you feel for what you once had and let it transform into appreciation for what you have now and what is to come. It doesn’t get easier, but you can learn to graciously accept the place in which they once sat, and now they sit with pride in your heart. Do little things to remember them by, take their favourite walk, listen to their favourite song, make their favourite food and tell their favourite jokes. This kind of remembering is so cathartic and poetic and will do your soul good.
Grief manifests itself in so many ways. I hope that in time you can sit in peace with it and let it walk next to you rather than blocking the sun as you stride. May your heart swell with pride to have known those lost and may their legacy live on through you.
I would like to dedicate this piece to two dear family members I unfortunately lost last year, it is only now, still with a heavy heart, that I have started to understand all of the emotions I feel are valid, and that the tides of sorrow are finally starting to turn into calmer seas lapping at the shores of my soul. I will never forget the moments we shared.
Sláinte to our fallen loved ones, may their love for you crown your heart with love forever.
Peace be with you.
If you are really struggling with grief, please reach out to your GP and they will be able to point you in the direction of relevant care avenues.