Health & Parenting, Home & Happiness

December 10, 2018

The Art Of Grieving

Two months ago I was faced with the difficult decision of learning what my last words would be. Not "my" last words, but the words I would say to my friend that would be the last she's ever heard from me. Not only that, but she was unconscious and they would have to be relayed to her from her best friend, a woman I had never gotten the chance to meet or speak to before. The last conversation we had when I learned she needed another transplant wasn't so much about her, because she always seemed to put everyone else before herself, it was about my little boy. I was trying to avoid making her feel worse, by sending her photos and videos of him playing and having fun. What I didn't realize was how alone she might be feeling, or how maybe she wanted to talk about what was happening. Or maybe I did realize it and I was running away from it because I was scared.

The truth is that death is scary, and it sucks, but in the same weird way it can be a relief. No one ever knows what to say to a dying person to make it better. Death isn't something you can just wish away, and people seem to avoid the topic whenever it's brought up. "How can you talk about that? You're so young"! I've heard it so many times, but people are so unprepared, even the people who have been close to death their entire lives. You can spend your entire life preparing and thinking you're ready, but when it comes, it still manages to shift your perspective or thinking in ways you can't ever prepare for.

I miss my friend. I wish I could've been as amazing of a friend to her as she was to me, and I wish I would've spent more time telling her that. There's no use on dwelling on past mistakes or wondering about the what ifs, even though I hoped and truly believed we'd get to see each other and she'd get to meet our little boy someday.

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I saw a tarantula and it gave me a heart attack and I died (ridiculous, I know) but when I died she was there laughing and then I started laughing too. When I woke up I felt so relieved that I got to see her, and talk to her again, one last time. Even if it wasn't reality, it still felt good enough.

Now that the dream is gone and reality is here, the silence is still so unbelievable. No one has ever affected me so strongly in this way. I've never seen someone so alive in photographs and conversations just completely vanish, it's horrifying, sad, and maddening. Even though she was younger than me, she seemed to accept things and handle them so maturely. I thought for sure she would outlive me and accomplish all of her goals.

Even though it's hard, the worst times are picturing her family during holidays without her, wanting to send her a message and realizing I'll never get to talk to her again, and knowing that some of her dreams might be unfulfilled.

I always take something with me from everyone that passes. I learn new lessons and new feelings pop up. I can never understand what it's like to actually die or why anyone has to go, no matter how hard I've tried. Since I've been a kid I've made peace with death, knowing that everyone has to face it someday. I stopped being afraid and started being curious. Now that most of my friends are gone, and I know the possibility is becoming much more real, my emotions are everywhere. I've been sad, angry, guilty, and relieved. The scariest part of death to me is saying goodbye, or never getting the chance to. I worry so much about everyone else and how they're feeling that I neglect myself, and sometimes I neglect what really matters. It's so easy to get caught up in guilt and self-pity and the rapid ever-changing negative emotions that come with dying from a terminal illness and living through survivor's guilt from the people you so love and admire leaving before you, wondering when it will be your turn or who will be next. It's so disturbing to realize that you don't just have friends, but a queue of people you're waiting to leave you.

The positives: I believe I become a better person every time someone I love dies because I learn something, I look inside myself, I get motivated, and inspired. I become passionate about living in a way that makes me feel satisfied and like I've contributed in a meaningful way. I dream bigger, and when I feel like I've hit my breaking point, that's the exact moment I build myself up to be even stronger and fight even harder. I feel like more of a person because of the pieces and little fragments that are left behind.

I guess there isn't really an art to grieving, everyone just deals with things in different ways. Some of us let it break us, some of us let it make us, and some of us do a bit of both, or pretend it doesn't exist. But when it does exist, and it impacts us so greatly, we can't avoid it. We can only choose to believe that we'll be okay and that although death is inevitable, the way we live and respond means something greater than us. Or it's all bullshit. Whatever it is, it's reality, and I miss you.


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