Every morning there’s a little thought. The question, will today be the first day I don’t sit on the floor and sob? And some days you may get almost to the end of the day and think, aha! today I have done it! and then something, usually something very small, perhaps even totally disconnected from the situation at hand, will happen and there you are. And you think, at least this time it waited until I was home alone. Not like that time when Wish You Were Here came on in Whole Foods and you had to pay for your coffee and leave without getting any groceries for fear of freaking out the straights. And you could hear Pink Floyd still in your car in the parking lot because it was right by the door, and couldn’t leave until the song was over because you couldn’t drive because you were crying so hard. Yeah sobbing in a heap on your living room rug by yourself is way better than that.
It’s not, but no one wants to be around a sad person. For fear they might catch it from you. Or worse, fear that your grief on losing someone you love will somehow cling to them and they will soon lose someone they love. As if death were contagious.
My six-year-old daughter noticed something that it took me many years as a grown-up to become aware of. That grief is cumulative. Or rather that grief has no concept of time. Every time I have ever lost anyone important, whether they had four legs or two, when I find myself curled in a ball next to the couch unable to stand, I find I can’t focus my grief on the most recent loss. It’s like a soup, and giant swirling mass of sadness. I am weeping just as much for the cat that I had to put to sleep when I was 25, for my college friend who died when I was 33 as I am for my father-in-law and beautiful grandmother who have both just left form so recently.
People who think you ought to be over it by now, have never known true grief. They may have lost people, they may have been sad about it, but if you believe there is a timetable on grieving, if you believe that there is a resolution, if you believe that a time will come when you are no longer grieving then you do not understand. It would be nice to live for a while in the land of such sweet ignorance, and I am both wildly impressed, and a little sad that my tiny 6-year-old guru has left it so soon. I’m not saying you can’t live a good life, that you can’t smile and be happy and dance and enjoy and spend almost all of your days joyful, I’m just saying that sometime 10, 15, 25 years from now, I understand that I’ll have to leave the grocery because Wish You Were Here is playing, and for a short time my insides will feel as if they are going to break in two, but it will be alright, because this is the cost of love. and love is always worth it.