So I have been away for a long-ass time. I didn’t actually check the date of my last post, but it has been a while. First I was overcome by imposter syndrome, and this unexpected new sort of anxiety where when I tried to start writing a blog post after the last one this voice in my head would ask me “Are you sure you want to say that?” “You know, your sense of humor might be coming off less humorous and more like a whiny asshole,” and a lot of other great things. So I got anxiety about writing and venting about anxiety and it all fell apart. But I am back for now. I bet there are a lot of blogs out there with about six posts before the writer got hit with the new-and-improved “Why are you even writing this?” monster. But I’m going to try again.
A lot has been going on in my life lately, a little more than usual, and I realized that I need to write more because that is a great coping skill for me. Today I am going to share with you what I have been learning about combating grief.
The first step of combating grief is don’t. Fighting is a metaphor I use a lot for pushing through depression to get stuff done, or overcoming my anxiety to go to a new place, but fighting grief is like playing tennis with the wall– the wall will always win. Also, if you play the wall there is a good chance the tennis ball will bounce off the wall and hit the court lights, then come shooting down toward your head after making an outrageous sound and you feel so self-conscious you leave, then in the morning you have a wicked case of tennis elbow, tennis shoulder, and tennis embarrassment. I guess what I’m saying is that if you go at grief alone you’re probably going to make a big mess, hurt yourself, and be in the same spot under your blankets for a long-ass time.
Also, not combating grief does not mean not being angry. In grief there are a lot of emotions, and it is important to accept the grief and accept how you’re feeling. Grief is a huge pain in the ass and I don’t like it (not that many people do) because grief is something that by and large takes time; it is a marathon, and there are little things and big things you can do for yourself, and a lot of those things are to help you be more comfortable as you process grief.
I’m largely really bad at handling grief up until now because I am impatient and I like problems that I can solve or analyze, then write a proposal and create an annotated bibliography. Sure, I could probably do that for grief too, but that is not a solution for grief. Yes, it is important to think about grief and loss and mentally process that, but something I want to make sure you all who are reading this get is that grief is so much more than thoughts. It’s feelings, it’s the yawning absence of a presence that used to be a person, animal, even sometimes a job, or loss of ability. There is so much one can grieve and it is amazingly hard for me to wrap my head around. I am great at being handed things or problems and dealing with them, because they are things; you can even hand me a used bandaid and, while gross, is something I can handle, because used bandaids go in the trash, then wash hands, then probably have a drink that night and find something else to think about. It’s when something precious is taken away that things fall apart.
It’s important to know, though, somewhere in oneself that not everything is falling apart. Loss is the worst, there is nothing like it, it’s wrenching and awful. That’s important to know too– grief is worse than if someone went through all the available ringtones on their phone on loud at the climax of a movie, by a lot. That isn’t even a well-scaled metaphor. But that’s fine for now. Because grief is horrible, and exhausting, because sometimes it feels like grief will never leave. This is why it is also important to be gentle with yourself. So I think I’m going to practice more of that and end this post here, because I’ve processed a little more and maybe, maybe, made a point somewhere in this mess that can help someone.
Grief is not a battle, it’s not a war, it’s a marathon that is not meant to be run but walked, preferably with loved ones. And there is love and solidarity and strength in others that will be kind enough to lend it to you sometimes, because you are not alone in grief. Everyone feels it at some time, even if most people never know what to say to comfort someone. So keep going. You can pause and take a nap, or jump up and down and scream because fuck this marathon, and that is still going. You can do this, even if you don’t want to.