People say grief comes in waves. In shock, especially with sudden loss like with losing my Marky, the world is turned into a nightmare within the split second it took the police who showed up at my door to tell me that the love of my life was found dead in the street that afternoon… and I did not find that grief came in waves. Grief came in debilitating overwhelming pain that would not cease. I could hardly stand up… it was hard to physically breathe for months. Almost a year on and I finally understand that grief does grow into something that crashes over you in waves because it starts to live inside you. A deeper sadness is filling into my bones. One of missing, one of longing, one of aching. One of mourning rather than grief you could say. I carry my grief with me everywhere I go…. Sometimes I can smile, I can function unlike in the first ten months but it is with me all the time as an undercurrent. Other times the waves envelop me and all I can do is lean in and collapse into the wave that leaves me crawling on my hands and knees begging for life to take me too. I let the wave fill my lungs and I try to embrace grief and turn it into an act of love so that my love for him can live on.
Waves often come as bloodied punches to the face. At least once a day I get this sudden hit of ‘he is really gone’ and I feel this sharp pain in my chest and suddenly can’t breathe again… it becomes hard to inhale.
When that sharp pain of reality hits it feels like the memory of when the police were in my living room all over again only there is no fog of shock to disarm it even slightly. I always carry around the ache of grief yet in those moments it feels like the pain hits with more clarity. Some days it feels like my mind is intent on torturing me and replaying that moment in my head. I wonder if this is my brain trying to drill ‘acceptance’ into me… whatever the word acceptance means when it comes to death. I have nightmares where my brain throws up so many scenarios, as if my mind is playing out a puzzle of ‘where did he disappear to’ where my brain can’t process death or how suddenly it came to be. I have so many nightmares where he is missing or lost and I am desperately trying to get in touch with him. They echo the day he died as I hadn’t heard from him in hours and I was starting to panic but trying to reassure myself that he had got back to The Shire and fallen asleep. I kissed him only three hours before. As logically as I understand death, the soul or psyche or mind or whatever we have in our heads… it either does not want to understand or simply does not grasp the sudden disappearance of the most important person in your life.
In Levels of Life Julian Barnes writes… ‘Perhaps grief, which destroys all patterns, destroys even more: the belief that any pattern exists’ and the second I read this sentence it struck me. Grief comes in many forms, one of them is a crisis of faith. When someone you love dies you don’t just lose that person, you don’t even just lose your future with that person… you can lose your faith, your core, the pattern of life that you on some level have believed in. I am not talking personally here about religious faith as I do not have one, but of a faith that goes right to the core of your very being and of who you are. Even if you have no belief in an afterlife or even a soul, suddenly the world makes so little sense that everything becomes meaningless. When the best person you know dies young, nothing in this universe makes sense any more.
A friend says to me ‘your existence still means something’ when I tell her that life feels meaningless, but as much as I know she loves me and is trying to help, this isn’t about ego or myself. Existence feels futile in every sense, not my life, not even someone else’s life… but if the universe makes no sense then what meaning is there to derive? What is the point? I never needed a point before. My philosophy on life has always been that none of us know the answers while we are here, so just live life… yet when the most beautiful person is taken from this world so suddenly you need answers in a way you never knew before.
My friend says she can see that I feel betrayed by the universe… I answer that ‘betrayed by the universe’ is a perfect way of putting it. Julian Barnes wrote that many feel an anger not directly at the world but the indifference of it… ‘The indifference of life merely continuing until it merely ends’.
I cannot describe how earth shattering sudden loss is. It is not simply the death of a person who you love and miss. It shakes you so fundamentally that you don’t even know if you believe in the same things anymore. Someone has cracked you open at the centre so that you simply don’t trust anything anymore, you have no plan, you just fight to survive and on some days even that one day you have to get through seems so horrifically awful to survive through. That is what makes attempting ‘normal’ life so hard… you are no longer normal. You don’t see the point in anything, and you don’t want to be around anything that seems even in the slightest bit like a ‘normal’ world, it feels surreal, detached from you, and often insulting that life has just carried on and people live their lives around you while you don’t even know how to stand up anymore and loss is all you care about. The best person died, so why is the world still living?
…and this is what carrying grief with you feels like. We survive, we fight on… every minute that passes can be a battle. We carry with us infinite love and gratitude, a survival instinct that will make you cower, a love for life that can often surpass life itself but a pain that grounds us daily and makes our minds dig underground and want nothing more than to be with the dead. Our love lives on.
I have not written about grief in months because of this. I have even found it very hard to reach out to my support groups… because living with this grief is so exhausting but we carry on. In many ways we are the living dead, carrying the weight of death, loss and infinite love within us.
13 thoughts on “Living with Loss”
Very well said, it is hard to put into words just how difficult grief can be, but you did a very good job. Thanks for sharing.
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Hi DB, thank you so much for your comment and firstly let me apologise for taking so long to reply. Thank you for taking the time to comment, much love to you xxx
This is so very well written. Your words match my thoughts and for that I am very sorry you are in the same boat.. Love to you
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Hey m’dear, thank you so much for your words. Much love to you xxx
Exactly how I’m feeling. Can’t stop the tears as I read this.
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Huge hugs and love to you m’dear. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.
Apologies for taking so long to reply to your comment. I hope you’re in a more gentle place xxx
This is exactly how I feel having lost my sister 3 years ago. I feel like half the person I was. It takes all my energy to survive on a daily basis, anything above is absolute bonus.
I used to be really sociable but now I just can’t be bothered. There seems no point. Everything seems a little pointless without my best friend.
Thank you for your blog x
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Hi Polly thank you so much for your comment and firstly let me apologise for taking so long to reply. I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister. I utterly relate to your words about socialising without your best friend. I hope life is being a bit kinder to you, much love xxx
Thank you for this post. I could have written it myself, but don’t have the energy. Every single word resonates. Why did our best people die? My beloved, beautiful husband just like yours, so suddenly, so young. How can a world exist where such things can happen? Sending love and gentleness to you x
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Hi Meave, thank you so much for your comment and firstly let me apologise for taking so long to reply. I understand your words about not having the energy. I wish I could write more often but most of the time I find it very hard to reach out into the world to write to others. I know it’s over a year since your comment but I still don’t understand why the best people die. It will never feel just. I hope you’re doing okay xxx
Thank you so much for replying to my comment. And apologies for the delayed response on my side too, but as we both know, there is no need for either of us to apologize.
I read all of your posts eagerly whenever they are published. I’m so very sorry that we know the same pain, but there is some solace in knowing that there are other people out there who somehow still manage make it through each day while living with this unthinkable loss.
I think often of the many of the excellent points you’ve made in your various pieces… the notion of the first 2-3 years being the immediate aftermath, is very apt. The description of poking your head out of the fire debris in year two, trying to make sense of your life but finding that nothing fits. The story of the doctor and the pet rabbit… I am so so sorry that you’ve had to encounter such utter stupidity and thoughtlessness.
I’m 22 months into this life that I never wanted, just under a year ‘behind’ you.
I just wanted to write again and let you know how much your writing resonates with me. And to send big hugs of understanding x
This is so very true, my whole world stop exsisting when my beautiful baby passed away, first my precious daughter at the age of 31yrs and them 6yrs later my beautiful baby boy at the age of just 21yrs of age: my whole life crashed, my heart is torn apart my whole existence is robot mode. You do because you know you have to do, you shut your heart to love because you are afraid of loss. The pain never leaves my heart, I cry myself to sleep at night, I bust out crying without warning, I can’t talk about my children that have passed without getting upset or angry. It’s the hardest test in life to have to face that you are still here and you babies have left this world before you. I don’t feel anymore, I’m unable to love anymore, I don’t like to sit in one place for to long, much to my shame I have become quite unsociable. And the worse thing of all I have neglected my faith.
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Hi Annette, thank you so much for your comment and firstly let me apologise for taking so long to reply. I cannot imagine losing a child, let alone two of your children. I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling and how the world will never feel the same again. I hope life is being a bit kinder to you, and that you are being kinder to yourself also. I understand about being unsociable and sitting in one place… I hope you have managed to find a little bit of calm in your life. Much love xxx