The well of grief

The kids went for a walk without me today. Which was good. They got some time and space together, and I’d have held them up, besides which I had some work to do. But it was also good because I could cry properly for a while. It’s an ugly thing; it’s noisy and it’s messy and it hurts physically and mentally. And it’s not optional.

It’s like a pressure cooker. The tears, the grief, it all just builds up inside you all the time, you can feel it rising, and by now I know that it has to come out…but I don’t feel able to let it all out with them here. They’ve seen it all before, and I think it makes them feel awkward; they don’t know what to do with it, with me, or what to say or do. They’re not feeling what I’m feeling. They don’t really get it (thankfully). And so I tend to bottle it all up. Which I know is bad. I get quiet, and withdrawn, and I feel small and numb and isolated and a bit like I’m outside of myself. And then my thoughts wander off, and end up in all sorts of unhealthy places…

As it happens I saw a friend today, for work reasons, and she’d actually noticed I’d gone quiet again, which was surprising. And nice, and unusual, and uncommon. She didn’t know quite what to do about it…but she’d noticed. I don’t expect, or actually even want, people to notice. Everyone has busy lives, and what would you say to me anyway? But it was nice that she had, nonetheless. And it was also nice to have a decent conversation with a grown-up I’m not related to. Also unusual and uncommon, given the times we are currently living in.

Anyway, somewhere in the roof, there is my sixth form yearbook. In there is a poem I wrote, about the well of grief that overflows intermittently, and never runs completely dry. It’s there because one of my best mates, and her mum, were killed in a car crash when she was 19. We hadn’t known each other that long, as these things go, but some people you just click with, and she had a beautiful soul. It was tragic, and heartbreaking, and had a big impact on lots of us. So in that yearbook is a memoriam to her – a few lovely photos alongside my poem, although it’s unattributed. It meant a lot that they chose to use it. (Yes, I was an angst ridden teenager, doing an English Lit A Level – of course I wrote poems). Then when I was 25, and Austin was literally only weeks old, my best mate, who was a fair few years older than me, was also killed in a car crash, and life got a little darker and a whole heap less colourful. We were a strange couple, him and I, but I got him, so he was himself with me. He always flew a little too close to the sun, and he lived fast and died young. Once again, it was tragic, and horrible, and all the things you’d expect it to be. (Yes, considering my track record now, it’s probably best not to get too close to me…) And as the years have passed, I’ve lost my share of grandparents and relatives, as you’d expect, considering my age.

So I thought I knew what grief was. How it worked. How you get through it. That you get through it. That if it happened to me again it would be ok, in that I would know that one day I would be ok again, so I’d be able to cope with it.

It turns out that I had no f*cking clue. Yes, I know this is different, and more complicated and traumatic, in oh so many ways. But it is SO much worse. How I felt when I lost those people doesn’t come anywhere near how I’m feeling now. Not even close. Which, I know, shouldn’t come as a surprise really. Love hard, grieve hard, as they apparently say. It’s still way worse than I ever imagined it could be. It’s like a part of me, and of my past, present, and future, has been ripped out; and that I will never be whole, or OK, again. It’s no wonder no-one understands except those that have been there themselves. It’s inconceivable until it’s unavoidable. But that well that overflows, constantly fills, and doesn’t dry up? I think that metaphor still holds pretty true. But I’m not going to be writing poems. Instead you get stream of consciousness blog writing. Plus ça change…

Another pointless day is done, and another one awaits. One pointless day at a time, day after day after day…

One thought on “The well of grief”

  1. There’s no way to explain how its different. There’s no way to explain how all those other losses in people’s lives just don’t come close in impact. They can’t understand, they can’t get it. You don’t get it until you get it, and oh by god, then you GET it. Thank you again and always for everthing you write Jennifer.

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