On Grief

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Sometimes the light can just be blinding. Today, was one of those days for me.

The first proper day of spring/summer with an uncharacteristically bright and warm day for Dublin. In an attempt to take advantage of this glorious day, I decided that for IMG_20170505_125248_619my walk day that I was going to spend some time in my local park. I was surrounded by families and friends taking advantage of the weather by sharing their time and presence with each other.

Critical life events were held this beautiful day, and lovers were meeting in the sunshine, toddlers were learning how to use their tricycles, young children were learning how to rollerskate. Even a couple of elderly couples were out in the sun making slow paced loops around the central lake of the park. It was a symphony of noise and sound and life.

I got asked to take a lot of photos today – walking on my own I was more often than not stopped by new mothers asking me to help them capture a moment. I would oblige taking a couple of shots of them before moving on. There were a few shots that I dare will make it onto a few mantle pieces in a few weeks. It is hard to take a poor shot today! It impressed upon me the importance of days like today in the scheme of life. You need moments of reprieve, moments of light, moments of life.

Even if you don’t feel you have any to give right now yourself.

My Father passed away suddenly on the 1st of Septemeber 2015, and my Brother had died on the 18th of September 1995. My mother still lives with the grief of this on daily basis. AIMG_20170507_130457_920fter all, no parent should have to bury their child. Nor, should a widow be made so young. Today was not one of her better days, but none the less
I found her out in the sun.

She asks me like she always does if I’ll join her at the Chinese. To which, I alway reply a No. She now maintains a tradition from my childhood of going out to dinner at the same Chinese with her mother and her brother. How she copes with her grief is by wrapping herself around her memories and burning them into her memory. Enduring in her memories is her weapon for keeping her grief at bay.

I’ve seen that grief be a double-edged sword, providing solice and paralysis. I watch her battle daily with her sadness through her good days and bad. She goes out on days and is around my father’s family when I know deep down she would prefer to howl. She does it to maintain a connection because that is how she keeps her memories alive.

My grief has been a different experience for me.

My grief has challenged me with my emotions and my sense of self. There were times in the early stages of my grief – particularly after the first year where everything I had previously known had come into question. I had a lot of other life events that happened in those two years; moving home to care for mam in her darkest times, moving out into my space again, getting jobs and leaving jobs. It’s taken until now to appreciate my grief and how my grief is a tangled knot. A sadness of the loss of a key figure in my life, the physical and psychological exhaustion of dealing with emotions I’m not used to feeling like rage and resentment. My personal relationships with the people who I cared about became deeper ensnared in that grief, some of my long term relationships with people have survived this while other haven’t.

It’s made me afraid. I would have considered myself to be quite fearless, but nothing changes you quite like grief. Suddenly I found myself not just grieving the loss of my father but friends, lovers and myself.

It’s made me more reluctant to trust myself and any new relationships I may wish to seek. Simply because life is complicated, and right now I can’t articulate my needs in a way that doesn’t feel selfish. That may not be grief, but it is fear. I need to start getting used to putting myself out there again, and to accept that rejection is a part of the process of life. This is also an acknowledgment of the element of grief in that; that longing for something that hasn’t happened, or the fear of doing something immeasurably damaging to the people who are new in your life who don’t know the reasoning. That fear of judgment. The not wanting to drag people through it, because you do care.

That is one of the biggest juxtapositions of life, is that even surrounded by all of this light and all of these moments with people who we know will love us and want to be there for us, we refuse to let them in. Today was one of those days, not just for me, but for an acquaintance of mine who is going through a battle with her grief.

Her pain is acute, and right now for her intolerable. I understand her grief, and I understand that the psychological burden on her right now is insurmountable to her.  What’s worse is there is nothing I can say to her to ease her pain, there is nothing I can do to protect her. I, like so many of her friends and loved ones, want so desperately to protect her. But, there is no amount of coaxing her to the sun or consoling her with motivational themes about her purpose or with assurances that things will get better that will make her realise this until she can face the light.

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Helpless and worried, we do what we can by gathering together. Today we went and painted. We gave sound to concerns for her husband, as he deals with the unknown of what’s to come. Painted walls like canvases with our shared grief and found comforted in each other shared colors as we prayed in the shade.

As the sun passes behind the hills, and the moon rises I’m reminded and reassured that while the sun might be blinding, the stars still shine. That gives me hope.

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Hope for me, and hope for all of us who walk a road to dawn.

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