I recorded a couple of voice memos last night. Things that I wanted to remember and felt were important reflections on my grief experience as it unfolds. What follows here is not a word for word transcription of those voice memos. It is a large part of the content, edited as I felt necessary for clarity, listening to them a night later. What you won't get here is the sound of bathwater sloshing in the background, or the sound of me choking up and sniffling. You're welcome. I'm not going to preface this with anything else other than to say that my intent is not to upset anyone who has supported me these last several months. Here we go:
The reality of grief is that you will never be more alone in your entire life. There will be so many people that love you and want to help you, and yet you will never be more alone. There is just no way to describe it because everything that other people will say...they just can't possibly understand what you are going through and saying that it's not always going to feel this way or think about the times you had or it will get better...it's all fucking bullshit.
This is all shit that people say to make themselves feel better because they are terrified at the magnitude of your situation and cannot and do not want to imagine what it might be like to feel what you are feeling for five seconds. And they don't mean to be harmful. They don't. Your friends and your family love you and they do not mean for a moment to hurt you. In an act of self-preservation they do. There is no getting around it and they do and you don't want to hear that shit. You really don't. I would rather hear someone say "this is so fucking terrible, I can't imagine, I'm so sorry and I love you." I don't want to hear "it won't always be like this, it will get better, why don't you just go to sleep, why don't you do this, blah blah blah." Be fucking honest.
I had no idea about grief, I had no concept of grief before this, and oh my god, the horror. Truly, the horror. I'm learning so much about what grief is like and what love is like, what life is like. And I just want someone to say it might always be this fucking shitty. It might. It really might. But somehow you will still continue to survive. You might come out of it. You aren't the same person you were and you're never going to go back to that. That's just not possible. There is no new normal or new life or fresh start or whatever. There's just before and there's after. This is the after. And its ugly and messy and dirty and scary and violent. its all those things that no one wants to think about. Until you're there and you have no choice but to think about it and honestly its all you think about all the time. 24/7.
You have a phone full of contacts and yet no one you can truly talk to. And I've tried, I really have. And God bless my friends and family for what they've tried to do so far but you're crying into the phone and they don't know what to do. They just say they're sorry and inevitably the distractions start. The world does not revolve around you and your loss and other people have the challenges of their life. But if I'm reaching out to talk to you and asking you for help I don't want you to distract me with what happened at your kid's school that day. I just don't.
You start to learn how those conversations are going to go before you even have them. So you literally scroll through your history of text messages and your finger hovers over the "voice call" button but you don't actually press it. Maybe you post some sad image or depressing quote on Instagram or Twitter but you don't actually talk to a human being. I would never want anyone to know what this was like but holy shit would it be great to have someone who knew you and loved you and knew what you were going through. I could be connected with anyone in the world within seconds on this smartphone and this social media universe and there is not a person on this planet that I would want to talk to right now. Maybe just one, but he's dead.
There you have it. I wanted to share this because I think it shows what my experience of grief is like. This was my Tuesday night. I went to work, I ran, I did all the other required daily adulting things. This is also what most Thursday afternoons or Sunday mornings or any other time of day or night can be like for me. Sometimes there is an obvious trigger, more oftentimes not. I do my best not to let show in public or impact my work. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't. I can't control it, though I damn sure try to. More and more I find myself too tired. Too tired to think I can hold back the ocean for eternity. So, here's a wave for you. Breaking and crashing on my shore. Thank you for witnessing.