Grief: until you’ve experienced a loss first-hand, I don’t think you can fathom it. When my uncle died, I think I sleepwalked through the following months in a sort of numb stupor, in a mist of denial, and then we lost my granddad a mere four months later. Then I sat my A-Levels. Then I went to uni. I kept going and going, because that’s what living necessitates, sometimes.
There are no manuals for this stuff. There’s no textbook understanding of how long it will last, when it will appear or to what extent it’ll consume you. Grief has many faces. It was a sucker punch almost a whole year after my uncle had passed, when grief reared its ugly head: I was angry, I was sad, I felt guilty. At times I even felt a weird buzz of elation for the fact that I was alive, and then I felt frustration at others who didn’t seem to share that gratitude for existence, who seemed to take all the small things for granted. Grief manifests differently for everybody.
We are each other’s solace. I locked myself up both physically and mentally. Sometimes people would call, and I would choose to turn my face away from my phone, pretending I couldn’t hear the ring. I just wanted to be alone in my grief, to cocoon and be invisible to the world. Sometimes I’d ring others, not knowing quite what to say but needing to speak nevertheless, needing to fill the silence. If we let it, grief can take us whole. So we have to stop resisting: we have to open our arms up and embrace grief instead of closing up and building walls, locking out the love we deserve to receive.
Grief doesn’t have to be inherently negative. It can be liberating and cathartic. Grief has battered and brayed me in the past, but it has also made me the person I am today. I am strong, resilient, often vulnerable and unafraid to cry, no matter where I am or who I am with. This is my achievement: I have seen the effects of bereavement and I have accepted that, though death is most often beyond our control, our lives are not.
Will we ever be able to pull the stinger out completely? Unlikely. But that’s the privilege we have, the hurt and the joy, from having had our lives touched so greatly by another.
- You can read more of Ayesha’s writing in her blog.