Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Lightness of Being

It's been a long time that I've been holding a little rock of emotion in my heart, all balled up and heavy. I went to my grandma's burial, it was a simple small thing, we were there just over two days and then came back to normality. I started a new term at work. Things chugged along. It gave other people closure, while I continued to have sleepless nights.

I went for acupuncture and my lady said that the emotions are there but I haven't quite connected with them, but I will, and when I do I will sleep properly again. I don't know what I thought would happen - that I would tear my hair out? that I would weep with wild abandon? that I would well up every time I think of her? I have a painting on my wall of my grandma now, and some pictures from her house. In the beginning they made me a little sad, but one day I had a wee cry and I felt a bit better. It felt so feeble compared with the way that grieving takes place in books and plays and TV, but the way we react - the way I react - is never how people think you ought, and books and plays and TV they go for the dramatic, and real life isn't like that sometimes.

Grieving is a funny emotion - of all the emotions I've ever felt, it is the one that is most composite, most strange, with a liquid form, and a strange distortion of time. I have been questioning what I'm grieving over, not just the loss of someone's physical presence in the world, but what she meant, our shared history, the ways she contributed to my life, and what lives on from that. Some people say 'She's not gone, she's still with you' but funnily I don't find that to be entirely true, nor entirely comforting. She is not here. But she is not gone completely either.

I went to her burial and I wore a black dress. I am not comfortable in black dresses, but this one had small bits of orangey red, so it felt alright. There were four of us there, we will hold a memorial in December, but this was small and quick and I hadn't even thought to bring flowers. What do you do at a burial? None of us really knew. The rest of the day I sat with other people and listened to them talk, and my mum was concerned and kept asking if I was alright. I was alright. I was just quiet. I was just sitting. I was just being, how I was. And I was alright with that. Because there is still some discomfort, I didn't have a grand epiphany, and I didn't get closure.

And when I came back to normality, I still couldn't sleep. I had some days where things felt stuck somehow, where I couldn't move. And Middle B knew that things were't quite right. And I had a meditation where I saw her as she used to be - she would smile this sweet smile, and wrinkle her nose at me, and call me sweet names in German. I saw her when she was still mobile and alive, when we went places and drank coffee together and I told her nonsense stories that children do and she was happy, where I used to tread on her heels sometimes because my body was growing into itself and my stride was much bigger than I realised, where I would tell her that I painted and that made her happy. I have not slept, I have not painted, I have not made any clothes. I have not wanted to somehow, not strongly or obstinately but it just didn't feel right, what would I paint? what would I produce? from these feelings?

I don't know what I thought would happen to these feelings, maybe a big bang? I'd have a big cry and somehow through all the tears and the wailing I would be healed? Or suddenly I would have some vision, I would change and I would know that she has left me for somewhere much happier? I don't know. But I think that things are getting lighter slowly, things are shifting around. Piece by piece drifting away at its own pace. My heart is still a little heavy, but I think that at some point soon I'll be alright. I might even have another wee cry. I think I'll be alright with that.


  1. Dearest 'Nat, I have just teared up reading this, you articulate the weird non-state that is grief so beautifully.
    It does shift and it does change, I promise you, but it does it gradually and at its own pace. You have the right and the need and the obbligation to yourself to grieve in whatever way works for you and at whatever speed works for you. It is healthy and normal and natural; go with it, let it flow.
    Some days there will be tears, some days a cold bleak feeling or a hardened "got to get on with stuff" feeling, some days you'll want to be left entirely alone and some days you'll want to have everyone around you and never be alone again. And many other things, moods that pass through you like light through water, all shifting and glinting and hard to see past. This too shall pass, this too shall become lighter.
    Another thing; the creative mojo will come back in its own good time, too. Everything will settle in time. Go with it, flow with it. To grieve is a part of loving and of having loved. You will come through. You will shine again. xx

    1. Thanks for that Imogen! It's been a weird old process alright... It has been interesting doing the Happy Days thing during this time, I think it was helpful because I might be feeling a bit odd and a bit isolated and I still had to keep my eyes open for things that made me happy or touched me in some way, and I think that kept the grief balanced somehow.... yes, someone is gone, but there is still so many other things to notice. On the other hand some days it feels a bit irreverent maybe? Not quite respectful perhaps. But I think my grandma would have enjoyed this type of project and I think she would have been interested in the things that make me happy.
      I do think that grief is part of loving, you're right, and in that sense I'm ok with having all that emotion because I think it corresponds to how much love was there between us, and that really is wonderful