Grief is a funny thing. One moment you’re fine, staying afloat in the never ending sea you’re in, and the next twenty foot waves are crashing over you one after another never allowing you to catch your breath. The difference is, when you are standing on the beach looking out, you can see waves coming. You know when and when not to get in. You know when to hold your breath. Not with grief. You’re never on the beach. You’re constantly in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight and it’s as if you’ve lost your vision. You never see the waves coming, you never know when to hold your breath, but somehow you never die from drowning.
During those first couple of weeks after losing someone the waves are constant. You never have a moment of reprieve. On the outside you may appear to be floating, but on the inside you are drowning. You are positive you are going to die. No one can stay underwater this long without coming up for air, yet somehow, someway, you keep waking up day after day.
After the first month you feel like someone on a boat passing by has thrown you a lifejacket. Your vision slowly starts to come back. You can see some of the waves coming and brace yourself for the pushing under. Those rouge waves are still out there though; they still creep up on you and once again you feel like you are most definitely going to die.
Before you know it more time than you realize has gone by. Then you feel the wave of guilt come over you. Guilt for swimming, guilt for staying afloat. Guilt that you can function without them. It’s almost like you’ve been rescued by a sinking ship. You know you might get closer inland, but eventually, you’ll be right back in the water. You just hope by the time you have to jump back in the water your vision is fully restored and you make it off with a lifejacket.
That’s the thing about grief. I don’t know if you ever make it back to land. I know I haven’t. I’ve gotten close; I make it to a sandbar, but that seems to be as close as I’ll ever get. Once you love someone and then you have to say goodbye, whether you prepare for it or not, the grief is overwhelming. Moving on without them is something you must do, but you don’t enjoy doing it. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the life you have left to live, it just means you loved that person immensely and a part of yourself is lost with them.
I don’t think the rouge waves ever go away when you lose someone you love, and I don’t think it’s possible to ever make it back to shore, especially once you begin losing multiple people you love. But you find your way. You find a way to hold your breath when the waves you see coming hit. You learn that despite what it feels like you will not die when a rouge waves crashes down on you with all its might. You learn how to live on the sandbar. I think maybe this is the best place to live. To me, it means living -- happily -- with their memory.
No one is scathed from grief, because we all have someone we love. Some people may experience grief more often than others, but everyone’s is the same. To grieve is to love and to love is to eventually grieve. No matter where you are in your grief just know you aren’t alone, the water is full of people just like you, just trying to survive.
In Loving Memory
Marion "Papa" Castle, Emma Dean "Granna" Castle, "Uncle Sam" Smith, Mildred "Meme" Smith, Margaret "Nana" Elledge
& Molly (our family dog)