Grief, it’s a funny old thing isn’t it? I firmly believe that once you have experienced gut-wrenching, soul-destroying levels of loss, grief will forever live inside of you. It never really goes away.
People always tell you that it will get better, easier, and other things that they believe you want or need to hear. You’ll have to excuse me, but I call bullshit on that. I lost my grandmother, very suddenly, almost four years ago. I’m still not over it, nor do I think I will ever be. I’ve accepted the circle of life, that people get old and die, but I have not gotten over the loss of her life. I’ve not gotten over the big hole left in my heart, over all the things we both left unsaid. I still think about the funeral, clear like it was only yesterday, I still feel incredibly guilty for being the only woman in the immediate family that could not cry.
People close to me at this time did not understand my grief, old people die, they’d say. Life comes full circle to an end. But my grandmother was a second mother to me, she brought me up from ages 0-10 y/o as her own child, and the loss of a parent is not one which you get over, which gets easier to bare over time.
What people don’t tell you about grief is that, in fact, it gets harder with time. Nobody told me that as the sound of my grandmother’s voice becomes more and more distant in my mind, the last sounds that I heard from her, in the midst of a violent asthma attack, become louder and louder, echoing in my dreams. I can still close my eyes and see her coffin being lowered into the ground, in high definition. But nobody told me that sometimes, suddenly, I would have to rush to a photo to remind myself of the features of her face, the lines on her forehead.
Nobody told me I could and would grieve for a sister I did not meet in life. My mum has one single polaroid photograph, taken in an incubator, of my sister, born in January 2000 and deceased three days later, when I was 10 y/o. That photo is the closest I ever got to meet her. Nobody prepared me for the enormous guilt that consumes me every time I forget to add Sara to the list of my siblings.
These two losses are completely different. But they are valid and as much as I learn to accept and live with them, I will never get over them. They have left holes in my life and heart, and no matter how much the pain dulls with time, it will always hurt deep down. We need normalise grief, and stop rushing people to “get over it”.