Every week, our yoga instructor encourages us to consider choosing a focus for our practice, suggesting such things as joy and calm. This morning one word came to mind and insisted on staying: grief. It is my honor to hear people’s experiences with grief as I visit groups and organizations to talk about my book, Phe and the Work of Death. This reflection is what came out of my blessed, quiet practice today and contains pieces of what I have heard from people along the way. We may fear grief, but we need it.
I am grief.
I am joy and laughter at stories told time and again.
I am not a one night stand but move in for years at a time, pulling you into the shadows when you least expect it.
I am a two week cruise the week after they die because you don’t know what else to do with all those emotions.
I am panic attacks because the world feels so big and you are untethered from what you once knew.
I am the rush of a thousand realizations of little things that will never be again.
I am the sudden jolt at a smell ten years later.
I am not taking a shower for three weeks then spending $400 on bath products, a new robe and slippers, then taking a two hour bath followed by a ten hour nap.
I am gratitude for what was and will never be again.
I am trapped in hidden corners but then pour out in tears at a coffee commercial, surprising you by the “extreme” reaction to something otherwise benign and unimportant.
I am the surprise wail when you thought you would vomit, nausea and grief feeling so much alike.
I do not exist for you until a moment forces you to see me everywhere – the rings on a desk from old coffee cups; the worn out running shoes by the back door; the cardinal on the limb in winter looking for its partner.
I am the body forcing you to take breaths because you think you’ve forgotten how.
I am forbidden because the world tells you I am a sign of weakness and you cannot be weak.
I am unwelcome because I will make other people uncomfortable by my presence and their being comfortable has become more important than your broken heart that cries out to be allowed to bleed.
I am anger and fury because those are the safe things to feel when all else is lost.
I am both resentment and forgiveness because now it’s too late to say all the words you once imagined important.
I am rose colored glasses because the days for brutal honesty are now irrelevant.
I am bone breaking loneliness in the middle of a crowded room because life goes on but you aren’t ready.
I am the half crooked smile and half shed tear as you stand in the baking aisle, bag of chocolate chips in your hand, because you remember that one time.
I am hanging on to what they would have done because accepting they’ll never do again is too heavy to bear.
I am not the loss of one but the loss of many.
I am what brings you to your knees, forcing you to take a vulnerable shape that frightens you and makes you cling to any sense of power or control.
I am daisies picked on a hot summer day because that’s what you always did together and they aren’t here but the daisies arrived this year all the same.
I am born of love.
I am a gift.
I am normal.
I am needed.