Grief looks like me

I was the picture of grief in the earliest days, when the shock left me unable to walk and breathing ached. Grief looked like me when I’d burst out crying in public or when my mum had to desperately force feed me. Today is 2 years 9 months since my Marky died and today grief looks like me. I carry it with me always. Grief looks like me when I do my eyeliner perfectly and my hair is shiny. Grief looks like me when I talk to friends and laugh with my whole body. My grief is ongoing just as my love is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a comment that actress Holly Matthews made in an interview about losing her husband… ‘Grief looks like me’. Grief looks like anything you can possible imagine. Sometimes you might look like a depressed wailing heap on the floor (and trust me I have been there and I am the Queen of crying on public transport!) but sometimes you put your makeup on and go to work and smile, interact with the world seamlessly and no one knows how much you’re battling to survive. I always liked that quote… Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Today marks 1005 days of grieving. 1005 since my love died and these days people look at me slightly oddly when I say I am grieving or have had a bad grief day, as if the act of grieving was a static place in time and I should be past that now. I know many widows who wish for the Victoria era of black mourning clothes so we can tell the world that we feel fragile, yet so far along in this journey I would be looked at quite oddly even in Victorian times for still wearing my black veil. I believe grief is something you carry with you for life… it gets easier to handle and feels lighter at times, a huge dull weight at others and sometimes you learn a new way of carrying it. It changes shape constantly and fluctuates but you carry it with you always… ‘Some things in life cannot be fixed, they can only be carried’ writes Megan Divine. My love died utterly suddenly and unexpectedly. Within one minute his life stopped and my entire universe changed and I will always carry this with me as I love him, it matters, it hurts. He was magical and he was beautiful and our lives will forever be deeply intertwined. Yet in our culture when the supposed time for grieving has passed, people don’t understand why or how you are still grieving or how much it effects every part of your life. It is not something to be scared of but to embrace. If you have a friend who has lost someone, ask them how they are today, mention their loves name because it will help. Death is such a natural part of life yet we run scared of it rather than embracing the pain. Sometimes we need to embrace the pain. We want to say their names and tell their stories. We want to smile at those memories but we also want to cry when it stabs us unexpectedly. We want to share it with you on the bad days and the good, but we’re stuck in a culture that tries to shut down pain.

Today you will have passed strangers in the street who have just lost someone, friends who lost their parent a few years back, colleagues who lost their best friend 10 years ago and for no reason at all, today their grief might have hurt just that little bit more… whether on day 1 or 1005. Grief looks like us all because grief is a natural part of life, we need to stop running from it and open ourselves up to the idea that grief lives with us, not opposite.

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