/italian/ Death will find me living.
I am supposed to articulate all my thoughts on all the great deaths that have affected me in my life hence I am supposed to pen down all my thoughts on grief. Here they are in seven parts.
Grief is no linear emotion. That is the summary of what I have learned about it. It has no start and no end and no particular way it must follow. One day you wake up and you forget this person is gone and then some days you are so petrified, you feel so small, you feel so weak like you can’t get up like you can’t make it past that day but alas true to your worst fear, you don’t die, you make it to the next excruciatingly painful day. And when you do wake up, there it is, pain demanding to be felt.
Grief is mostly made up of two things I have learned. Pain and love. Wandavision taught me that grief is love persevering. Largely, grief is the love you have for your deceased having nowhere to go. So there it is. Unable to go anywhere and it breaks you and that is the pain. Unused love. Love that has nowhere to go so it is lonely and turns to pain. Occasionally, you have some stray emotions in your web of grief. Things like anger, regret et al but upon dealing with your grief, and resolving what is actually wrong with you, you will realize that what those emotions really are are love and pain in various mixes. Things you never got to say, things you never got to take back, love you never showed etc it’s just love you know you will never be able to give and life your deceased will never get to live.
I live my life in a way that I like to have the most insignificant yet most difficult conversations because I believe they are important. When time passes on your grief, there is a tiny patch of guilt you tend to feel. That guilt comes from the fact that despite promising not to, unconsciously and never in your own will, some days you will forget your deceased walked this earth. You will be doing something or talking about something and you will catch yourself imagining your life like they were never there and in split seconds you get yourself back and the guilt you feel is enormous. No dead person does not want to be mourned. It is probably the last self-indulging habit human beings will commit but it is okay because you mourn someone because they were everything. The slack you take from mourning is what brings the guilt. In moments like that what you need is to love yourself like you love them and let go a little. Forgive yourself.
Indulging is a very big part of grief but sadly people think is childish. LMAO. For many reasons I admire the life non Africans live but most of those reasons boil down to expression. White people are so expressive in the tiniest ways. They are expressive with every and anything without being labored with conventionality. Human beings have energy, it needs to go somewhere and kill me if you must Africans but not everyone can cleave to religion in the same depth and I should not be shamed for it. There are other consuming pursuits for a reason I believe. Grief can be the reason a person dyes their hair pink or the reason they live in one place their entire life or drink their coffee in the same temp place every day. It can even slowly become their ragione d’essere (yes this is us I am actively calling you out because I cannot seem to thank you enough). This I have found is because more than people are made of anything, people are made up of people. I told someone recently that the person who taught me how to be soft and intimate with other human beings, my cousin Mimi is dead. So how then can I continue to be as I am without the slight pang of pain. So in coping as human beings constantly try to, we relish in the parts of the people who are gone in hopes to feel or hold them somehow and yes we should because that way we don’t forget them, we remember them in fondness and stay with me- we’re eliminating the guilt. Be the things you loved the most about the people that are gone, I believe I read that on Pinterest. In all with this part, the best thing (and really only thing) you can do for your deceased is to remember them in the largest and littlest of ways. For me, I write about the people I lose. Short stories, poems, essays, this whatever. They are worth my ink so I spread it.
Parting with people when you don’t plan to can be very very painful. That is the most difficult component of death. So consequently you try to always be prepared to part with people. Although even that isn’t easy as we can’t control everything. It is a very great burden to carry when you try to control everything, parting with people inclusive BUT if you’re a seasoned griever like I am, you will unconsciously try to always be at peace with everyone so in case that is the last time, it was a good time. That is caution and fear in one pot of stew. The first week of August did not start out that great for me and it is ironic because I am supposed to be parting with something that has been a large part of my life and parting will actually bring joy. (The thing is therapy I’m tired of speaking English) Plus it’ll officially be a year since I became a plant mom. So I naturally envisioned that all my exercises would pan out and at least things would work out but no it did not happen that way. I had a lot of conflict, reopened trauma and I lost yet another loved one. I almost ripped myself apart in my sleep. I even parted with someone after a big fight. Sometimes I say goodbye to things and situations when everything just points not to go forward with it. So coherently, I like to part on good terms. Last Tuesday night after a rather horrid reminder of how much I hate fights, I text said person that I will not like the last time we speak to be a fight so here are good wishes instead. I did this not intending anything but the next day I hear that another of my loved one has passed. This incident breaks me because it reminds me of why I did the parting and why people just never get it but I get how incredibly fickle life is so none of the negative energy is worth it. Simply put, as much as you can, live peacefully & amicably with people, the guilt isn’t palatable.
Almost at the end, here’s what people call making peace with death. I see it this way: Grief is not like packing a suitcase that when you’re done you zip the box and roll it away. If anything it is like lazy unpacking. You take out things until the box is empty. Basically, Grief is not linear so there is no start and end. My aunt Evelyn died in 2014, yet seven years later, I felt her so much in July. I felt her so much sometimes it felt like I couldn’t breathe. I saw in this series “End of the fucking world” that when someone is important to you and you haven’t seen them in a while, when you do immediately it is easier to breathe. Now reverse it. That’s how grief can be. You feel your deceased so much sometimes you can’t breathe so you should pause. Frankly I feel it is unfair that the world doesn’t stop for people to catch their breaths considering how incredibly difficult and incoherent life can be. But that’s really the worlds business. On days like this when it is difficult for me to breathe, I cut off everything and go lay down. In the moments I lay down, I do nothing but actively miss my deceased. But this missing is fondness. I remember them ever so fondly. If I have pictures I look at them. I read things I have written about them, I listen to our songs. I go through our emblems and practice my grief outwardly. What I am doing is remembering them in a way only I will. In those moments I hold on to the fact that my memory of them is valid and strong and more than ever, in those moments they are mine. My Mimi, My aunt Evelyn, My Bry. I need no one to stand in between or help me reach out. I call them by their names to me and they are mine. That is how you get to the peaceful part. That is how you make peace with death.
Finally, here is the hurdle of moving on and the life happening in between your big grief moments. For one, in my experience, grief taught me how to be very spiritual so moving on usually involves a lot of scripture, prayer and just spiritually intertwining with God. It answers the questions. Secondly, life becomes an avenue for you to help your deceased live vicariously. You cross records, you feel things, you try to eliminate regret and for every day you don’t die, you try to feel alive. Also you don’t owe it to people to show them a particular way you are grieving. Don’t worry yourself trying to explain things to people they will never precisely understand. So yes, this is the end and anything I didn’t put in this note I can probably tell you if you text me. Where does one find the courage to keep going? For me it’s been the Italian phrase e sono ancora qui. …and I’m still here. I’m still here so I try not to waste it. I’m still here so why not? Meanwhile, do not let anyone undermine your grief. I hear people say oh is it your direct family member or he or she was just your boy/girlfriend. No one has the authority to talk down on your grief so don’t engage them by listening to the bullshit they think they have to say. Just walk away or politely tell them you didn’t ask for their two cents. Side note to people around people who are grieving, allow people grieve. Do not go around telling them to move on you are not their grief measurement tape, do not try to hasten people’s grieving periods for how it may serve you. If you cannot wait for them to make peace, leave them alone. To put the full stop, with grief at peace, you remind yourself that from what you’ve seen and what you’ve felt and for what it has taken away from you, death will find you living.