The Thing About Grief

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.

6 thoughts on “The Thing About Grief

  1. Definitely some big truth here. My dad has been gone for 25 years. I still miss him pretty much every day. I think, as you suggest, I’m just used to that hole that he filled.

    I love this quote from Ralph Fletcher’s book, FIG PUDDING: “When someone you love dies, you get a big bowl of sadness put down in front of you, steaming hot. You can start eating now, or you can let it cool and eat it bit by bit later one. Either way, you end up eating the whole thing. There’s really no way around it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry for your loss. No two people react to loss the same way. When someone says, “I know how you feel” no, they don’t. Yes, the grief is always there, but learning to live with it is what keeps us going.


  3. This made me cry- you’re strength is showing, and your grief is out there in the open for people to see that you need a shoulder, a hug, some space- whatever may help in that moment. Remember he is always with you (religion, you know)


  4. I am very sorry for your loss – and it is a BIG loss to lose a parent. I do agree that the grief never goes away – but it does eventually become something we can live with.


  5. I lost my father and my father-in-law within a month of each of other. I grieved in different ways, but in ways that may surprise most. I was very close to my father-in-law and miss him a lot. I grieved for what my dad missed out on. It sounds like your dad was one of the good ones, and this is a beautiful tribute to him.


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