Unfortunately, I think crying is easier for some people than it is for others. I think as children when we find we have to raise ourselves, we tend to ignore the emotional toil of processing traumatic events and that keeps us from crying; it is a weakness and something we do not have time for. It’s easier to distract ourselves and rationalize all the reasons we might be upset rather than to actually process or express our emotions. There is no need to mollify a crying child because there isn’t one.
But when grief is especially hard, the crying comes especially easy. Grief is particularly hard for those whose lives death has yet to touch. Death is unfathomable, it is an absurdity that you cannot understand if you have not experienced it and there is no rationalizing it away, especially when it comes too early. There is nothing that hurts more than seeing the sun come up and go down like nothing has happened when someone you loved dearly has gone; your world is ending, so why isn’t everyone else’s?
I have lost not one, but two of my own siblings to premature death. They were circumstances that could have been prevented, but not ones that could have been predicted. The survivor’s guilt that ravaged me when I lost my younger brother was a desolate, black hole with no reprieve for weeks. It is similar now that I have lost the person who essentially raised me, but the timeline is more complicated and less linear.
I have been grieving for the last ten months, silently, to myself, waiting for the day when my grandmother would pass. I was not open about it and I did not let it affect me past the first week of her diagnosis; I sat in my car in the hospital parking lot and thought constantly about what I possibly could have done to deserve such an angry disruption in the peace that I had built. When it finally did happen, I felt both relief and panic. Relief that my grief would finally release me, that she was no longer suffering and I could move on with my life; panic because I didn’t know if I had done everything I could up until the end. Had I said enough? Had I told her how important she was to me? Had I done enough to make her proud of me? Had I done enough for her to truly pass in peace?
Grieving is unbearable and the death of a loved one leaves us with more infuriating questions than answers. It is the sudden tearing up when you smell a particularly nostalgic scent. It is going through belongings, opening boxes and finding things that meant so much to them because they meant so much to you. It is the realization that you were loved more unconditionally than you ever could have imagined and then not having known it. I was being loved so deeply for so long and I was so ignorant of it and I think that is what makes this such a nightmare.
I have no scientific statistics for you right now, only my own veteran experience of having gone through this for the third time. Memories are agonizing now, but soon they will become the most priceless possession you or I will ever have. The people we lose will become a part of our everyday lives, whether we know it or not, in our habits or our words or our faces, and it is only this that can allow me to move on peacefully. Please do not let days pass without understanding how much we all take for granted. Please do not take for granted the people around you who play important silent roles in your life. I have done both and they are things that I will regret for the rest of my waking life.