A cup full of joy
Part two of the grief circle meet up brought with it an abundance of emotions that I was surprised to encounter. Which kind of sums of grief really; It’s a tricky little fellow. When you think that you are all cried out, grief hits you like a slap in the face to remind you that he’s not quite done with you yet.
A mutual friend was spoken of so lovingly accurate, so missed, so unfairly taken too soon, her beauty and wisdom such a loss that I found it hard to swallow the gigantic lump in my throat. I think it is possible to conjure ghosts from beyond, our love and stories bring them back in the room and for the briefest of time, they come back to life.
I poured the Joy tea, it was meant to lift us as the previous session had. Last month’s share brought tears but some light-hearted laughter too. The joy tea wasn’t doing its job; there was a real collective group sadness that stayed with me late into the evening. I tried to soak it off with Epsom salts, it was clingy.
Saying the wrong thing; we are all guilty, and let’s face it we aren’t taught GCSE how to talk to grieving widows in school, are we? The classic they are in a better place I have used on many occasions in the past. I do actually believe that when we die we are teleported to somewhere better, easier and more magical than this crazy hell hole. But most people believe we return to the ground, dust to dust or they just don’t know so the better place scenario just sounds bat shit crazy.
They aren’t suffering anymore, again probably true but not helpful as you can only think about your own suffering right now. Oh how we suffer, when my stepdad died I realised just how fond the ego was of holding tight to the misery and taking it with you. I wallowed in it, knee-deep in tissues; feeling so sorry for my loss.
Anger is a particular favourite of the grieving; it is a good friend for disappointment. The constant reminder that someone is missing from the picture, nags away at you. I liked being angry that he had been taken too soon without warning. I was not comforted by my strong belief that he was somewhere better. Mums and little brothers should be home when you get there watching television with dinner cooking, not somewhere better.
You will meet someone else; this is a major No No!!!!! You do not say to someone who has lost the love of their life that they will meet a replacement partner ever. They haven’t had a car stolen; a person is not a thing. I think we often say the wrong thing because we do need some words to leave our lips. We also use avoidance and say nothing because we are so ill-equipped to say something useful, which is equally annoying. Basically, it is a minefield, tiptoe carefully. There are no words. Bring cake, send flowers.
Tattoos and death, there is something very comforting about the permanence of handwritten words that were spoken and are now etched onto to warm flesh that keeps the dearly departed close by. If you are lucky your loved one had good handwriting, if not pick a font.
Once again I didn’t share, I wonder if the other mourners wonder if I am some weird voyeur.
When somebody said that it doesn’t get easier with time, people say that times a healer. I wanted to say it does but it takes a really long time, and months or early years aren’t nearly enough time. I am talking double digits. But that is just me, twenty four years after my brother’s death seems like a lifetime away, it feels blurry and distant and far off like a dream. It feels diluted by time. My experience isn’t your experience.
I think time is a healer; we would never survive if we had to endure the harsh relentless onslaught of fresh grief. Time introduces us to his friend’s acceptance and that’s where the healing takes place. I think that I am not there to share because I am okay now. I think I am there to make the tea. I think if I had spoken I would have really cried I would have found it hard to stop, does that mean that I am not okay. Note to self, it is okay to cry.
The fact that we as a collective species are so shocked by death our own inevitable ending and that of our most cherished loved ones is quite ridiculous. The reality is that any one of us could keel over at any given second and yet we all presume we will live forever. We will, we are eternal beings, but I am specifically talking about this lifetime on this planet in this bodysuit you call home.
Freshly bereaved individuals share how death is a great teacher, a wakeup call and a pledge to live better, to be improved humans. I wanted to say yes that wears off too with years, lots of years. The death grip loosens and lets you breathe a little freer and we slip back slowly into old patterns. Shame because that grip is one good thing that death brings, it teaches us that life is so very precious. It shows us how important and irreplaceable people are. It makes us show up and feel things that we didn’t know we were capable of feeling, it makes us strong. It cuts through the crap. But we are human and things get blurry.
The Buddhists meditate on death; they calmly remind their minds that I may die today. If we can convince ourselves that every breath is a bonus every sunrise a gift, then would we live more fully and fearlessly? If we had an expiry date branded into our flesh just like the tattooed words of a deceased mum would we hold onto petty grievances? I wonder if we would say yes to more things that light us up and no more often if we knew our days were slipping away, they are by the way.
The grief circle is sad but it is also very beautiful, a sacred space, and a place to heal.
Maybe next month we should go back to love tea.
Big hugs and lots of love
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