I’ve been around death for a long time. My parents didn’t shy away from taking my sisters and I to wakes, funerals or burials. Being a part of a very large Italian family, I attended a lot of these ‘events’. I knew what to do at a wake, I understood them, I appreciated them and on some level I liked them. It meant I got to spend time with my family albeit grieving or not, being with my family always made me happy.
Fast forward to the tender age of (yea not giving that up); I have now attended wakes and funerals of the elderly, young, middle-aged, and newborn — of my immediate family to the distant friend and everyone in-between.
And because of this – I thought I got death and grieving.
But I was wrong. It wasn’t until two years, 8 months, 6 days, 13 hours and 51 minutes ago (but who is counting) when my dad died that I finally understood what death is and what grieving is really all about.
Grieving is like ripping out a piece of paper from a notebook, shredding it into tiny little pieces and then being commanded to glue it back together – all those tiny little pieces of paper are my life – trying to glue them back together – is complete fucking nonsense. Paper is everywhere, glue is sticking to my fingers – and in my hair – it’s a damn mess.
It can’t be done and it shouldn’t be done.
Because it’s impossible.
Death changes a person. My life will never the same.
I was forever changed after my dad died. A piece of me died with him.
And now, having to say goodbye to Julie. One of my closest friends. My bestie. My ride-or-die. My soul sister.
I am changed again. Now two chunks of my heart are missing.
Death has become me.
It is now the references of “before my Dad died” or “when Julie was in the hospital.”
It is the “I gotta tell Dad that he’d laugh … crap dad is dead” (yes that blunt) moments.
It will be the listening to all of the saved voice mails from Julie as I sit paralyzed in my driveway.
It’s trying to keep all these memories alive with every story I can possibly tell to my sons.
Death is exhausting. Death is ugly. Death sucks.
And grieving? Grieving is awful. It’s like a tsunami. Each wave is a wave of grief that hits me in my chest. Every. Single. Day. It’s the wave of guilt, a wave of the what’s if’s, the wave of if I said that, done that or the wave of I should have had the hard conversations. It’s the wave of complete desperation and longing for the person that has died.
Death is Death is Death.
Death robs me of my willingness to live.
And because I know what that grief tsunami is – inconsistent and can knock me down whenever the hell it is wants.
I am now terrified to grieve for Julie.
Grieving leaves me speechless. Renders me useless. It is the screams at my children. Grieving is the irrational anger. It’s not wanting to get out of bed. And the uncontrollable crying as I am driving alone in the car.
Driving alone sucks. That tsunami of grief is always ready and waiting for me when I’m alone in the car.
Grieving can be logical too – what’s the point of being angry? The erratic nonsense? The Debbie downer’s?
Why do this when at the end of the day, I am at the same place?
My dad is still not here. Julie is gone.
Death happened. I can’t change a gosh darn thing. None of this behavior will bring back those I love.
Should I not go through those emotions?
Yes I must. That is what I learned when my dad died – I gotta move through each emotion to get through the other side. And the other side isn’t pretty. It’s actually awful.
But it’s necessary. The other side is basically the realization that wow I still have to live. I cannot run away from the world. I still have to feed and nurture my kids. I still have to go to work. I still have to go food shopping. I still have to do the laundry.
I still have to live.
Because the pain never goes away. It may dull from time to time but the pain never dissipates.
Living a life doesn’t mean that I’m not grieving — life just becomes a distraction to the grieving
Life is now a distraction to grieving for the people I love and miss. Terribly miss.
As I continue to make my way through the insurmountable grief of losing my dad and now my Julie – I understand death and grieving more than ever.
And that sucks.