Grief is a vacuum. It’s a chore to recall events, happenings from a week ago. You find yourself forgetting what you had for dinner the night before, because last night feels like years in itself. Memory is fleeting. You visit old places again, places you’ve always known, places you haven’t been to in months, and so much has changed. It startles you to see the differences and upgrades. Because you’ve been stuck. Your world did not keep spinning like it did for everyone else. You visit these places with the expectations and memories of a former you – a you that was different prior to grief – and you search for familiarities you once knew, because grief exists in a vacuum, and these familiarities are no longer. As you visit grief and pass through its door and through the doors of these familiar places of your life, you become confused. You get disorientated. You forget that time has passed. You forget that places have changed.
Grief is a vacuum. On the inside it is empty and void, it pulls and depletes. They say that grief goes together with love. This notion is not lost on me, but grief is but a shadow of what once was. What is grief? It is not just pain, for pain can be felt through other misfortunes that are not tied to losing someone you love. And grief is not love. I want to believe that it is, but grief is pale next to love. And love is not destructive. Love energises, not drains. It gives, not takes. Love itself is a lot of things, but it is not grief.
If one had to ask me to define grief, then, I would not know how to respond. I myself had not known what it was prior to meeting it. How can I explain it to those who have not met it, when I cannot even define it? For grief can look like emptiness and love, and loneliness and pain, but it is not these things in isolation. It is but a contorted fusion of them all. So, I’m stuck with saying, ‘grief is’. It is not an emotion but a verb. Perhaps that’s the similarity between grief and love. They both cannot be outwardly shown but they can be inwardly held.
Grief is. It’s the clinging to memories and the past, and the future of what could have been – memories are even unreliable anyway. Grief is the brittle attempts at keeping those we love alive through noble tributes; while claws around your heart squeeze ever so tighter when you realise that even the most virtuous pursuits cannot bring them back. Grief is a physical pain in your chest. It consumes and takes and threatens to swallow no matter how strong you fight to stay above its waves. It crashes over you, nonetheless. Yet grief cannot exist where love does not still exist, so grief is but love’s ugly complement.
We tell ourselves that grief is necessary, but is it not rather a reflex? Do we need grief as much as we cannot help but to live it? To deny grief would be to deny love. We try to find beauty out of it, but no matter how much you grieve and call it love, it cannot undo the past. It cannot make reality otherwise – and that’s all you really want. That’s all you truly care about, isn’t it?
Even so, nothing awakens you to the reality of existence quite like grief. And with it comes the essential truth that the petty things of the past no longer matter, neither do the shallow pains of life you once thought would destroy you. Perhaps this is one of the feeble beauties of grief. We want to see the light even in the dark, we search for it even though the endeavour might prove futile.
But grief is. And grief will always be. It’s a shadow of a lost soul, for it can never cure the incurable, it cannot fix what’s broken. It’s not so much a necessity, as much as it is a reflex, for do you have any choice in the matter but to let grief in?
– work in progress.