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I Would Like to Feel This Later, But I Can’t

·592 words·3 mins

Someone I love very much passed away last week. Even as I type those words, I want to delete them. Because I don’t want to talk about it. Not at all and certainly not in public. Because I don’t write well enough to do the experience the justice it deserves (especially not now, as I’m more existing than really living). And I don’t want sympathy. Sympathy is well meaning but doesn’t help. Nothing will make the pain better — except maybe time. I keep reminding myself that. That I’ll feel better eventually. That time can be a kind of panacea.

Telling myself that worked okay for the first few days. Didn’t make me feel better, but the feeble attempts at self-comfort gave me something to do while I fell into blackness. And then I awoke one morning sick of the sound of my own inner voice. Annoyed every time that I would go and reflexively comfort myself. Because I was sick of myself. Sick of my own reassurance.

But unable to stop trying. Because I do want to feel better. I do. I consider myself to be a generally positive person. Upbeat. Tough. Resilient.

I have never grieved like this before. This is the worst pain I have ever felt. I couldn’t have imagined it before it happened to me. I would have thought I was exaggerating. That nothing could feel this bad. (And I haven’t had an easy life, so I thought I understood what it meant to suffer. I was wrong.)

Every day has been difficult so far ever since it happened. Different kind of difficult every day.

It feels a lot bigger than me. And it’s certainly bigger than my words. I’m not sure how I’m getting through it. But I am.

You don’t opt in to grief. It’s something your body drags you through. You don’t choose it; it happens to you. You don’t get a say.

I would do anything to get a say. I would like to feel this later. Sometime down the road when I’m stronger, less exhausted. But I can’t. I have no control, no option but to feel this.

I keep reading about grief and finding what folks are saying is generally true — if an understatement. Because they’re trying to cover all different kinds of losses. What I’d read before rang true for all of my other experiences I’ve had with death — when I lost friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents.

This is different. I lost someone that I honestly don’t know if I can live without. Someone I idolized and never felt quite good enough for. And worse, I didn’t know I was going to feel this way before it happened.

And I’m sure the current circumstances of the pandemic aren’t making it any easier. It’s not a good environment to heal in.

Anyway, don’t worry about me. It’s just… too much right now. I anticipate I’ll be a while working through all of it.

All I want you to know is that major grief on top of ongoing pandemic grief (which is a reasonable reaction to everything we’re losing or postponing due to this awful illness and what we need to do to save lives) is really fucking bad.

And I want you to know that we never really know what other people are going through. So if you could please try to be even more patient with people than you normally would, that would be great.

That’s really all I want. More than sympathy or condolences or anything like that.


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