I’m no good at grief. … Really, I’m not.
Or, perhaps I should say – I’m no good at polite, front-parlor, sorrowful-eyes, bring-a-casserole, hold-your-hand, murmur-platitudes grief. THAT I’m no good at. But I can rock the hell out of some get-drunk, scream-into-the-storm, curse-wildly, laugh-inappropriately grief. If that’s what’s required, I’m definitely the one for the job. But only up to a point.
It was a year ago today that my Anam Cara & I lost our little girl. She was stunning, brilliant, talented, and fascinating. I’ve never experienced pain like that, and though I know it’s unreasonable, I hope never to again. When it happened, I was consumed by the entirety of grief. Every dirty, messy, crumbling, suffocating moment of it. I sobbed and raged and struggled for each breath and held the pieces of my heart together by sheer force of will.
And I kept living.
Because that’s what you do.
That’s what you *fucking* do. You don’t wallow in the grief – because that’s self-pity. That’s selfish. That’s destructive to you and everyone around you. Feel your feelings, yes. Experience your pain, yes. Grieve and mourn, yes. BUT THEN LIVE.
The loss doesn’t go away. You don’t forget. But it does get better – because you damn well SAY it will. There will always be moments… a song, a memory, a scent, an anniversary. There will be times when you’re doing fine and it all comes crashing back. A few weeks ago, I was thrifting for costume pieces for a project we’re working on, and I came across a t-shirt that she would have LOVED. And before I even thought about it, I tossed the shirt into my basket, my mind already filled with boxes of Mac & Cheese and bags of Skittles that I could pick up at the store to throw together a care package like I would do whenever the whim struck…
And then the memory hit me. There was no one to send it TO.
It hurt, of course. I had a moment where the vice-grip clenched onto my heart. But then I straightened my shoulders, put the t-shirt back, took a deep breath, and kept going. Because that’s what you do. That’s healthy. That’s facing life and its realities and moving forward. And instead of using moments like that as an excuse to be rude, selfish, or melancholy – I choose to believe that those moments are when she’s closest… winking at me & teasing me – just to keep me honest. It’s a choice between being weak & being strong.
There’s a growing ideology that’s seeping into popular culture and into the minds & opinions of far too many people – at least here in the U.S. It’s the concept that “…it’s ok if she’s a train-wreck, she’s not responsible for her behavior, she’s ‘broken by life.” I find this way of thinking to be infuriating. With this one little selfish BULLSHIT statement, we are not only trying to excuse away every pathetic waste for a human whose ever said it – BUT we are simultaneously tearing away at the foundation of women’s equality that has taken decades of blood, sweat & tears to build.
We have somehow entered an era where it’s “cool” to be the victim. Where we have to post all over social media about how broken we are, how much life has hurt us, how we’re ‘suffering’ from *whatever* disease or difficulty or depression or trauma or event. The list is endless. “Look, I’m a victim, I’m so broken” has become the rallying cry of everyone who simply wants attention. It is immature, ridiculous, and the farthest thing from a strong, powerful woman (or man) that I can think of.
You want to talk about rough life? There’s an amazing friend of mine who is in a wheelchair. THAT’S rough. But does she complain about it? Hell no – she makes jokes if she even mentions it at all. And when we lost Laci, she was one of the first ones to reach out to me. We had an insane conversation about whiskey and cupcakes that had me cackling uproariously. Exactly what I needed – and not ONCE did she mention herself or her life. That’s what it’s fucking about. Looking outside of yourself and your problems and giving to someone else. All this “me me me” BS is disgusting. Get the hell over yourself and get to living.
Don’t look at self-centered, emotionally stunted, wastes of space like these women you see on TV who pine after men or run hot & cold or make EVERY wrong decision in the entire world & use them as an excuse to justify your own selfish shit.
Grow up. Be an adult. Handle your mess. Process your grief. Get over yourself.
Just LIVE for fuck’s sake.
Can it be scary? Sure. But nothing worth having was ever easy… Well, except maybe cookies. Cookies are pretty easy.
There’s a concept in Japan that I find particularly beautiful. It’s called Kintsugi, and it is “…the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.” (Thanks, Wiki!)
I am absolutely enchanted by this idea. Because everyone has pain, everyone gets ‘broken’, everyone cracks & sometimes even loses a piece. But the philosophy of Kintsugi says that if you STAY that way – you’re nothing but some old busted pottery… but once you heal those fractures, once you fill them with precious materials, you can become a work of art.
Because you’re WHOLE.
The beauty is not in the breaking, it’s in finding the way back and putting the pieces together again.
Don’t delude yourself that you are justified in being sad indefinitely.
Don’t wear pain as a badge of honor.
Don’t stay broken.
And then go live gloriously like the work of art you were meant to be!