The Year When Grief Moved In

“The year when Grief moved in.”

Death came unannounced and uninvited. No warnings, no time to prepare. Her visit was brief, much like a rushed appointment, a quick inspection, an unwanted fleeting kiss. As if in a hurried, business like interaction, she arrived, demanding her lot and he breathed his last breath. 

Mercilessly, much like one undresses and discards dirty work clothes, she stripped him off his cloak and enveloped him in her arms, and as quickly as she arrived so she left taking him with her to places I cannot follow. 

It was so fast, so bizarre that one whole year later it still doesn’t seem real. I kept thinking that he will walk through the door at any moment. 

Maybe she didn’t come at all, maybe I’m just dreaming, a bad, bad dream... and when I can wake up everything will be fine, I tell myself. 

But I know I’m in denial. Because as soon as Death departed, her sister arrived. Also without warning, also uninvited. Unlike her twin, this one lingers and lingers. I’m suffocated by her presence.

Like an unpleasant and a noxious relative she moved right in, without asking for permission, and like a dark shadow she follows me everywhere at all times. Filling the atmosphere with her heaviness, reminding me that his absence is not a dream, that in fact my life has become a nightmare. 

Everyday of the last year she has pressed her demands on my chest, she forced me to dance her agonising songs, she caressed me with her griping bony hands, squeezing the air out of my lungs, confusing my mind, blocking away my clarity.

As I lay awake her piercing eyes study me. 

As I fall asleep she follows me into my dreams.

As I wake without rest, she is there, waiting for me, ready to entrap me in another day of emotional roller coaster rides, frightening me to the edge of insanity. 

LEAVE ME ALONE!!! I scream at her, knowing very well that very presence means I AM ALONE...

The days have passed in blurry confusion and now they amount to a whole year. One year... How can that be possible? Where have I been these whole year? 

It was the year of sadness, the year I found no joy in living, no real pleasure in food or in the company of those I love. The year of ‘nothing is safe’. The year of ‘nothing makes sense’, of ‘no one understands’.

The year when the only constant certainty was the agonising realisation that her painful presence would never leave me. 

And then, one day a genuine smile crosses my face, another day some pure joy snuck in, an another a brief light of gratitude warmed my heart. 

I wanted to hide those precious things from her, the tyrant ward of my prison. But I realise that nothing escapes her, and to my surprise she is pleased with those fleeting moments of life I am now and then able to grasp. 

She has changed. Or maybe it was my view of her that has changed. I’m not sure how, or when, but she has morphed into a close friend. I don’t want her to go anymore, because somehow her presence connects me with him, the tears she forces me to cry make him alive inside of me. 

Some days, when her presence is fainter, I find myself worrying. “COME BACK! DONT LEAVE ME! 

Please stay, hold my hand, squeeze the air out my chest, cloud my vision... anything so that I can remember him.”

I need not to panic. She hasn’t gone anywhere. She won’t leave me. She has just changed clothes. She smiles and holds my hand, this time it is I who wants to hold on to her. 

Then suddenly I realised that all this time she was caring for me, allowing me to heal, strengthening me. And I am aware that there is someone else holding my other hand. Hope has always been present, I just was too weak to notice. 

In one year I have changed so much. In one year I have anguished and missed him so much. In one year my tormentor has become my counsellor, my jailer has become my friend.

She has helped me to accept that he is gone and taught me to survive in his absence. She has showed me that I am stronger than I think and that I need not fear forgetting him, for he will always, always be with me.

And I can understand that this Grief that moved in, is in fact a gift from God, she has made me suffer, but through my suffering I have discovered that life is still possible, even after Death.