Grief in the Season of Joy Part IV.

I got really lucky with who I got for a dad. My dad was great. He was imperfect, and he would be the first to tell you that. He could totally be an Eeyore, and was known to both have a spark in his eye and drag in his step. He epitomized contradiction. His humanness, his lack of filter, and his big radiant heart, he was incredibly loved.

His memorial service was huge. It was about 500 people and I stood on stage and shared intimately, vulnerably, heartfelt feelings without breaking into sobs. In that moment on stage I felt so cared for, so held, and definitely not alone.

So much of Grief with a capital G has been the feeling of being alone. My dad left me alone. And I’m not alone. I have great friends, amazing family, a beyond supportive partner. It doesn’t take away the aloneness of grief. Everyone wants to, so badly, but they can’t. No one is the person who died. No one can bring back the one person you want to make you feel not so alone.

People who have recently lost someone have a certain look, recognizable maybe only to those who have seen that look on their own faces. I have noticed it on my face and I notice it now on others. The look is one of extreme vulnerability, nakedness, openness. It is the look of someone who walks from the ophthalmologist’s office into the bright daylight with dilated eyes, or of someone who wears glasses and is suddenly made to take them off. These people who have lost someone look naked because they think themselves invisible. I myself felt invisible for a period of time, incorporeal. I seemed to have crossed one of those legendary rivers that divide the living from the dead, entered a place in which I could be seen only by those who were themselves recently bereaved.
— Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

 

Joan Didion saved me. I read A Year of Magical Thinking five months after my dad died. She so perceptively encapsulates the feelings of insanity that come with losing someone you love. She made me feel less alone.

I write this fragmented, imperfect reflection on grief because it helps me. If you have lost someone and you feel so very alone, I want to gently remind you that you are not alone. No one will have your specific pain for your specific bond with the person that you lost. You may only really be seen by those also recently bereaved, but you're very much, not alone.