Grief is a tricky thing to talk about. Firstly because it’s different for everyone, and what I say might not ring true for you. Secondly because it’s something that has touched me fairly recently and changed my life more than I thought possible. That makes it quite hard to talk about for me.
I cried so hard it felt like I was vomiting my soul out…
My beautiful nan died about 10 months ago. I say ‘died’ and not ‘passed away’ because ‘passed away’ sounds too peaceful and… expected. Instead, that morning was earth-shattering, shocking, gut-wrenching. I cried so hard it felt like I was vomiting my soul out, right there in the lounge room, over the bowl of yoghurt and berries that I dropped my phone into when I got the call. I felt like I was dying, because she had.
The pain that came from my nan dying has been too much to bear and as a result I’ve tried to avoid it. I give myself a few seconds to look at a photo of her and smile, and quickly look away before the pain comes up from somewhere deep inside, and out my eyes and down my cheek. I’ve refused to watch home movies of her, recent or otherwise, because I know I simply won’t cope.
burying grief is not a useful strategy.
Ten months of this has taught me a very important lesson: burying grief is not a useful strategy. You’d think that would be obvious, yes? It wasn’t to me. It was simply a matter of self-preservation. I’ve done alright with it, I suppose. Except I’m faced with a little dilemma: my pop is unwell now. He’s aged fast since nan died, and on top of it has had a shock cancer diagnosis. Add his age of 90-odd years to that, and it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that I may have to say goodbye to him as well soon.
I found myself wondering earlier this week if his death, when it comes, will break me. Because of my burying and avoiding and reluctance to face that his time is coming too. So I asked myself: is it possible to prepare yourself for grief?
I’ve asked myself over and over again this week what I can do to prepare myself. Is just knowing preparing? Or are there required steps here? Is it even possible?
Dr Google seems to think so, but unfortunately his qualifications are purely academic and his advice far too practical: seek legal advice, have your affairs in order, prepare for time off work, notify friends and family of what is to be expected. Apparently, these things are a part of grief, according to Dr Google, and he and I have agreed to disagree on this one. While these things are required while experiencing grief, are they really a part of grieving itself?
Grief is so multifaceted that you can’t possibly predict the way it will unfold within you. The panic, the yearning, the sadness, the crying, the philosophical questions, the anger, the detachment, loneliness, guilt… But perhaps anticipating it helps spread it out a little.
This weekend I plan to write a little list of things I can do to prepare. Number one on that list will be visiting my pop. As I’ve avoided that for quite a while to try and save myself some hurt.
I would love to hear from you if you’ve experienced similar. I’m sure almost everyone has. Is there anything I can do to prepare?