One year, two months, and eleven days. What no one told me when my grandfather died was that time is not a healer, that grief can change with each day but it never truly leaves. Since his death, I feel like I’ve been asleep inside of myself; who do you become when the only person who ever made you feel truly loved and comforted is gone? What no one talks about is the overwhelming feeling of listlessness, that you float in and out of days with no anchor to set you in the place you’re supposed to be. That you will feel void and heavy all at once by this new vacancy in your life. What no one talks about is how the color of the world will dull just slightly and never return to the vibrancy it once held when that person existed within its atmosphere.
What no one talks about is how you will go through a list of Firsts, which will sometimes push the restart button on your grief and place you back at the beginning. The first Christmas or first birthday without them here to celebrate, or the first really difficult obstacle you need to overcome in your life without their shoulder or guidance. This is where I currently reside, in the limbo of needing help but having nowhere to go. He was the only person who knew how to listen without judgment and give advice that actually had my best interest in mind. My grandfather was always my first line of defense; when a boy broke my heart, he was all hugs and To-Hell-With-Him’s and told me to toughen up because everything in life will break your heart at least once. The last question he asked me was if I was happy, and I remember taking his hand and saying yes, fully aware that it was the last time I’d feel happiness in that complete and whole way when you have everything you need.
What no one talks about is how hard it is to hold on to the tiny intricacies of that person’s life. His smell, his laugh, the way he would enter the kitchen to make you food: a quick-pitched “Schoo!” to start his work, preparing a mental list of every option he could give you off his menu of standards. He was the keeper of his family and he was more proud of that than anything in his life. I feel a jolting sadness at the thought that one day I may forget how that pride shaped my life, how it shone so bright through the menial everyday tasks and chores he’d complete to give me a structured life. He showed me that the value of life can be found in the labor you put into it. His lawn was never green, but that didn’t matter to him; he would still water it and mow it, and rake the dead away and place them in piles on the street. His lawn was never green but he tended to it like he owned the grounds of Eden.
He showed me how to take care of the things and people I love, but he never showed me how to take care of me. I clean my house and feed my fiancé even on days when my depression seems to almost drown me in its tides because that’s what my grandpa taught me. There have been days where my grief fully takes hold and disables my abilities to simply be an adult. What no one talks about is how hard you will be on yourself during those days, that you’ll feel like you’ve failed those around you. How you’ll become more concerned with how your friends, family, coworkers, even strangers are perceiving your grief. How some of your friends, family members, coworkers will expect you to move on from your loss when they feel like you should. That there will be a chasm opened up to separate the friends who are fleeting and the friends who are in it for the long haul, and that will be another form of loss you’ll have to deal with. No one will tell you that you will become a new version, good or bad, of who you used to be and not everyone (including yourself) will continue to love this newly renovated Self.
The things we don’t talk about when we talk about loss can alienate a person to a depth of loneliness where there is no light, no sound, no possible exit. And there’s nothing that will console because no one can truly know how you’re feeling, even if they experience the same loss. All I can say is that doing the best you can is really all you can do. And your best may not always work out, but the whole point of life is to keep going.