During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.
On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions.
Grief is an enigma - mysterious, puzzling, difficult to understand.
You know nothing about grief until you are going through it. You know nothing about grief if you are going through it again in different circumstances. You know nothing about the same grief that you have been experiencing for the last seven and a half months.
It's a mystery that comes in and out of focus, only revealing this part or another part at any one time. You don't get the full picture ever.
We try so hard to understand it ... for ourselves and for others ... but I've come to the conclusion that making sense of grief is an impossibility. I only have my experience today, now, in this moment. What I am experiencing may not, and probably does not, apply to anyone else. What I am experiencing today may not, and probably will not, apply to me tomorrow. Maybe the inconsistency is the only consistency.
We have tried so hard to analyze grief, to compartmentalize it into easy to understand words. It's all wrong.
The most common words are the five stages of grief ... denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Thankfully, it is becoming more and more common to find articles debunking these stages than promoting them but still these patterns are firmly planted in our conversations about grief. When we read about the stages now, frequently, we still want to use those word labels but acknowledge that they do not occur in a linear fashion.
Personally, I think the stages themselves are bull shit. They make more sense to me when used as Elizabeth Kulber-Ross intended - as patterns she noticed in patients who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, in people coming to terms with their own death. I do not see how we can quantify and label any grief experience. The moment that we do that, we are giving someone a road map and telling them that they experience "should" look something like that.
There is no should.
Noah left behind the love of his life, a mother and father, eight siblings, two nephews, countless friends and parents of friends and co-workers. We all love him. Just as our experience of him in the world was unique and individual to each of us, our experience with his death is unique and individual.
Maybe the best that we can do is listen to our own story, bear witness to our own pain, notice our own patterns. Maybe the best that we can do for others is to listen when they want and need to talk, sit with them when they need silent presence, love them.
We can only unravel the mystery of grief for ourselves, in this moment.