The thing about grief is that it never goes away.
One minute you’re totally fine and the next you’re curled up in the fetal position bawling your eyes out. Or you’re sitting on the couch in a full-on ugly cry because the latest episode of This is Us just punched you in the face. Sometimes you’re just casually strolling through Target intent on summoning the willpower to only buy what you came for and you see a dad walking with his little daughter and without warning you’re swallowing a huge lump in your throat and digging in your purse for a tissue or a receipt or anything that you can use to wipe those tears that just will not stay put in your eye sockets where they belong.
I lost my father two years ago….by that I mean that I didn’t actually lose him, he died. I know where he is (or I know where I believe he is…religion is a whole other slice). What I did lose is the ability to talk to him whenever I want to. To call him up and share good news, to go to brunch at a local diner, to work on home improvement projects. I lost the chance to have him tussle my hair and tell me to drive carefully, even as a 30-something who is way past the newly licensed driver stage. I lost the opportunity to smile as he referred to himself in the third person by always telling me, “Dad loves you.” And with all that loss I lost something else.
I lost the ability to control my tear ducts. Grief hits me in some way, shape, or form every day. Some days grief hits me so hard I can’t breathe for a minute. Whoever is responsible for the old adage, “time heals all wounds” is a big fat liar. Time isn’t healing anything. That’s the thing about grief. It never goes away. It’s now a part of my identity. I am a person who lost, a person who grieves.
While it is *a* defining characteristic of my identity, it is not *the* defining characteristic. I am also a person who has learned to let grief settle in and stick around for the long haul. I don’t deny grief its place, I don’t try to pretend it’s not lurking in the shadows ready to emerge at the drop of a hat…or a sad AT&T Commercial. I let it out when it needs to be free. I lock it in the closet when I’m feeling happy.
That’s the thing about grief. It never goes away, but you can learn to live with it.