on grief

I've learned that grief is sneaky.

It may be the trickiest of emotions, actually - one minute I'll be laughing and watching TV. The next, a commercial for the American Cancer Society appears and I'm unmoored. In those moments, it suddenly feels like I'm underwater, watching the world continue around me - voices, sounds, movements muffled and slow.

The smallest, strangest things make me cry. Almond milk, because we swapped recipes for making our own. Salads in mason jars, because of who taught me the value of making those on a Sunday before a week of work.

Certain songs. Items of clothing in my closet, because of who picked them out in the store. I had to hide some books from my shelves, turn their spines around so that only the jagged paper edges show.

Grief comes out of nowhere, a thousand-pound monster that can hide itself wholly until it's ready to pounce. Then it settles in on your chest, in your bones, behind your eyes, deep down in the darkest parts of you. It's exhausting. It's heavy. It's infuriating.


Grief is sneaky. And grief is heavy. And relentless. And godawful. And so many other terrible things.

But if you work on not letting it consume you - if you say to it, "Hello. You can be there. You can walk with me. But together, we're going to enjoy the sun. We're going to spend money on the overpriced latte and savor it. We're going to sit down at a computer and create together."

If you work on that, if you let it in but don't let it control you, grief, I think, is also a way of honoring someone. It's a way of acknowledging what you lost. It's a way of letting yourself feel the love you have for them, as painful as that may be.

Grief can sometimes be a monument to the beautiful life that someone lived - which is, perhaps, it's sneakiest, most hidden quality of all.