Grief is a Mess
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Harmony. It’s not about what’s lasting or permanent. It’s about individual voices coming together for a moment. And that moment lasts the length of a breath.”
Grief is a Mess.
I was 21 years old when my dad died unexpectedly. He was the first man I loved in life, and the first man I lost to death. He was an easy going guy who, in our family, played the part of Harmony. He was the structure of agreement and accord. He was a pleasing arrangement in our days. He was the co-creator of our lives. When he died, our family unit turned into our family trauma, and for a while we separated into individual notes of our own grief.
Grief Among Family is a Mess.
The mess of grief will no doubt test the composition of a family. Death had ended the arrangement of our family as we were. Everything changed. The bottom had dropped out of life as I knew it, and nothing felt safe anymore. I watched my mom carry on, but in a check-out sort of way, aimless and weighted down from the deep dissonance in her heart. Even as a young adult it was unsettling to watch, but I could not look away. My brother simply misplaced himself among us, hidden in plain sight. My sister dutifully willed herself to fill the gaping hole by trying to inherit Harmony. Having no room within ourselves to bear anything but our own pain, grieving turned into a solo journey. We were, each one of us, alone in a group.
Grief is a Lonely Mess.
During those months that followed, I had never felt so alone. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the mess; I made some bad choices, I made some good ones, I tried harder at University, I drank lots of beer, I taught myself to play his guitar, I went to church, I ate a lot, I cried a lot, and I screamed for him to come back (but quietly, so no one else would hear). The loss created a new perspective in that I saw dads everywhere. Everyone had a dad but me. I had never felt so alone.
Grief is a Worthy Mess.
Although the solo journey is a lonely one, it is still worthy one. I discovered a deeper level of empathy, in the only real way to discover it, through my own experience. Knowing our own pain, allows us to know it for others. And even though we cannot bear each other's pain, we can learn how to hold space for it. Space that can also leave room for a new arrangement to emerge. Finding the worth in grief is playing to a higher vibration. A vibration that can support an untethering from trauma, and the evolution of a family.
Authors Note: The book "Grief is a Mess" written and illustrated by Jackie Schuld inspired the context for this blog. The character illustrations are so wittingly honest and charming, they make me laugh every time I open it. With this book, Jackie reminds me that we are all students in the mess that is grief. Jackie and her book can be found at www.jackieschuld.com