Grief takes you by surprise.
Lemony Snicket says it best:
“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”
I recently read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis as well, and he had some powerful things to say about grief. About how to reconcile God being good. And a lot of thoughts about coping, understanding and continuing life with grief.
One of the strangest things about loss and grief is the fading of memory. We forget how a person really was. Dom from Inception talked about that when the phantom of his wife haunted him:
I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can’t imagine you with all your complexity, all you perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You’re the best I can do; but I’m sorry, you are just not good enough.
The people we lose are never really true in our memories anymore. They leave a piece of themselves with every person they know, and those pieces can almost be combined into an image of who they were when they were here.
My friend was a wonderful person. She was also occasionally annoying, like every other human I know. She was also brilliant. Funny. Welcoming. Awkward (although not anywhere near my level).
I think my grief became stronger the more I learned how many others were grieved.
But as the weeks have passed, the grief is less harsh. The loss, while still felt, is not as daily. I have her film to complete, and it is nearly completed. I was gifted her lovely dog, Bella, and she is a constant reminder of joy.
There are no magic words to help someone through grief. The most comforting things that people did for me in the early days were this:
- My brother, though he had never met my friend, said he was grieving with me for her.
- My sister brought me two plants – 1 for my eyes and 1 for my stomach.
- My friend saw my post on Facebook and called immediately to see what had happened.
- My husband accompanied me to a film group meeting where I had to ask for post production help and try not to cry.
Grief isn’t normal. It’s part of life here on earth, but it isn’t normal. There is nothing normal about losing the chance to chat or see a friend for the rest of your life. There is nothing normal about the ache in your heart when you see something that reminds you of someone you loved who’s gone forever.
But normal or not, to feel grief is ok.
And as always, love the people you have. Focus on the good. These connections may not last long, so enjoy them while you have them.