At the moment, I’m a passenger to loss but the feeling of loss is no less acute. Then again, am I really a passenger or is this loss very much open to my grief as well? Yesterday, we lit candles as it was cold and also because it sets a certain mood, doesn’t it? Later, when we felt the candles had burned enough, one of us snuffed the candle out. After it was snuffed out, or after any candle is snuffed out, a distinct scent rises up but it’s like a flash in the pan in terms of how long the scent lingers for. Now take that action, the action of snuffing out a candle and equate it to a person’s life. One moment you’re lit, the next moment you’re out. This year, we’ve had people go out. They went out in a very short amount of time and the impact on us was, is, like being washed out to sea. Of the people we lost this year, we anticipated one, but the other two came out of nowhere. Oddly enough, while I was trying to decide if I should write this, I went back and read a post I’d written about the impact of scents because that post was prompted by watching one of those people decline.
I’d wager there’s yet to be a truly definitive book on how to deal or cope with grief, with losing someone who was your blood or supporting someone very close to you as they navigate losing their relatives. Watching someone close to you grieve and grieving along with them is a protracted, unchartered path to thread. There are no road signs, no correct way to do it other than to breathe through the loss.
We combed through belongings then we had to decide what to do with them. Tossing those things out brings into painfully sharp focus how much the things we deem as being so important while we are alive are in reality, utterly meaningless. Things were sorted into recyclable and non-recyclables, and it’s quite startling to see how easy it is for your life’s toil to be reduced to the stipulations of the local sanitation department. It’s like a bad joke really. In the midst of that, there is the mourning process, which makes me think of a genie slowly making its way from a bottle into the air and hovering there, holding you captive in its gaze, waiting for you to do something or say something. Grief is such a sharp and biting experience, digging into your soul, sending your emotions into a flat spin, tingeing everything with its grey haze.
When heavy things happen, I’m usually able to keep my head straight for weeks, even months, then slowly, I begin to fall apart. It happens in small ways at first then it begins to grow. So right now, even though I’m a passenger in this grieving process, I’m slowly beginning to come apart. In the midst of the losses, there were some gains, in keeping with the underlying principles of this existence and the laws of physics, which are unrelenting and always at play, the ebb and flow, the ups and downs, the high tides and low ones, the good days and the ones less so. Yet as I feel myself falling apart and the weight of everything beginning to bear down on me, I remind myself to hang in there, because one of us needs to have a straight head, or at least be able to be focused enough to do the steering.
As tightly wound as this has all has been, I’m also seeing glimmers of the other side of this, where things will begin to make sense again but in a completely different way. I also realise we’ll never be the same people we were before it all happened because grief has altered us, sealed us even more tightly together and in many ways made me less a passenger to the experience by drawing me deeper inside its grip.
Loss and grief also stir up old emotions, old hurts and old regrets. I highly doubt that a regret-free life is part of the contract we sign when we are born on this earth. So loss also forces you to relive other moments that may have been similar in weight, and it implores you to question whether or not we ever completely seal away past experiences to the extent that they no longer have any kind of hold on us. But I don’t think that ever happens. Everything is always there, lurking, waiting for the right set of events to fling open that heavy door all over again. And when that door is flung open, do we get a Mary Magdalene to come to see what has become of us, to go and tell others how we’ve feared?
If you happen to be in the grip of grief, at the edge of loss, or if you’re a passenger supporting someone close to you who is in grief’s grip, hold tight to yourself and to them. Grief is a tricky thing because it has no real beginning and certainly no fixed end. It lives alongside you in so many ways and shapes how you navigate life. Grief clouds things, but oddly it also opens your eyes very very wide, in some ways giving you the ability to see people and life in a completely different way. You start to recognise what matters and what doesn’t, at least that’s the party line because grief can also make us irrational. I’d even say that in the midst of grief, the person who has left is somehow able to demonstrate, to some extent, why they were who they were when we knew them in life. Grief also brings some understanding, but that takes a while, maybe. In the interim, as we breathe through this, I find distraction and some comfort in continuing to write about things like makeup and scented candles. It’s one of the healthiest ways to cope that I can think of at the moment. But do know that that’s not my only focus, that behind the posts about beauty, there’s a life happening and right now, it’s quite a hard slug but I am committed to pressing on.