Transcending through the various stages of grief is a multi-faceted journey — love accompanies loss, with each expectation accentuated by disappointment, the pain eventually heightening joy. Grieving is a process yet one can become so engrossed in grief that it becomes the end goal. The dead end. Grief can have a knock-on effect on the love that embalms us, impacting relationships and tearing worlds apart — whether romantic, platonic, or familial. Yet also the complete opposite may be possible, offering support and love to those that need it, simultaneously a test of endurance, solidifying foundations, and strengthening bonds.
“Can grief consume us and crumble every relationship we have ever devoted ourselves to?”
Can grief consume us and crumble every relationship we have ever devoted ourselves to? Self-control and acknowledging one’s emotions are central to the process — yet it is not always within our reach. Perhaps beyond the comprehension of those who have never experienced loss, and its associated misery.
Perhaps the most forward type of agony is the one that comes with the terrible news of the departure of a loved one. It is the things we did not do that we lament, the regret accentuated in the aftermath. I should have answered that phone call, visited, been more honest with myself and others. I should have said I love you. Futile thoughts. Yet overwhelming, demanding, relentless accusations of guilt and shame, intertwined into one reason to remain in the pits of despair. “Death is the great divorcer forever”—as mourned upon by Keats—but it does not have to be. Keeping a spirit alive in its memory is never in vain, it’s only when we give up on hope as a guiding force that it becomes so. Although death can contribute to a forceful, and at times unexpected, physical separation, it should not reduce the value of their memory. Assigning blame or begging the merciless divine for an explanation will never resolve the root of the issue — the fact that they are gone, their memory reduced to the scent of that piece of fabric buried in your closet. The habits and reminders that torment and you will never quite become accustomed to. A blessing for their memory, a curse for healing.
Mourning how things used to be & its impact on Identity
Losing a friend or a partner due to a falling out, or mutually agreed distancing is losing a piece of your soul. Choosing to emotionally disconnect from that person may seem like an act of vengeance from their perspective – when it’s a demonstration of mere self-preservation.
I think about the café we will never visit. That road trip we’ll never go on. The new song by that artist we both love, my thoughts now suppressed to a conscious no other than my own. Hopes and desires for the future buried in the bottom of my bedroom, rather than reflected in the light, discussed with you. Anticipations for the years ahead that we discussed with eyes registering hope, brimming with naivety. Innocence. An antithesis to the times that are presented before us now.
“What if our paths had never crossed?”
When relations fall apart, I find regret diffusing through my limbs, my blood rushing through me: frozen. What if our paths had never crossed? Maybe everything would be better. But what if I tried harder to keep this afloat, a cycle of a continuous eye turned blind to every flawed and damaging characteristic displayed? Maybe if this connection truly meant anything at any point in time, we would still be amiable. Maybe I wouldn’t feel this way.
Yet it becomes quite easy to fall into the trap of ruling out former exemplary days and meaningful connections of the past. The complexities to the layers of friendship dynamics, triggers, falling in and out of connections is endless. Sometimes, things that were once sustaining, lose their purity. As humans, we grow and we evolve, beyond mere adaptation and conformity. Progressing between life stages, we advance to the next one. Those that were destined for us choose to align their paths with ours; those who can no longer stay fall away. The journey terminating does not reduce the merit of what the friendship once was — every laugh reverberating against the walls, every secret shared, every hug exchanged. It carried weight in the moment, shaping identity and humour, a throbbing pneumonic of them — yet also a nudging reminder of impermanence. Chapters close, paving the way for fresh slates and consequential relationships ahead.
An unfortunate side-effect of the depth of one’s loss is how it can potentially affect those that surround you. In the struggle to maintain a balanced equilibrium in the mourning process lies the challenge of asking for, or receiving support from others. At times, your withdrawal or silence can be deemed a weapon, an act of transgression. Some people find solace in asking for help, while others may not be so confident in speaking up, and thus suffer in solitary.
“Mourning the loss of a long-term prospect in your life is difficult to articulate into a simply construed sentence.”
I think about relationships damaged by a schism of worlds — one flooded with grief and the other impartial to that realm. I woefully reflect on times when my quietude may have appeared as evasion. Mourning the loss of a long-term prospect in your life is difficult to articulate into a simply construed sentence. Although torment runs deep, the dynamic layers that accompany it are expansive, and frankly overwhelming. It is the silence from those around me that made the isolation more striking, more desolate. More dispiriting still is to reach out for comfort and receive benevolent yet apathetic words in return.
Ultimately, grief can leave you grappling with standing on your own two feet at an unexpected time while trying to accept that you will not always receive the support you so desperately need at that moment in time — and sometimes that is okay. Dependence on others can be vital for healing, but the process can also be embarked on alone. After all, the true test of grief and loss includes learning to support your own emotional needs, and fully process within your own body, not an extension of someone else. Pain is inevitable. It is the feelings that accompany it that we try to delay; and typically to no appeal.
“Grief never fully fades, but over time it slowly dims.”
It is striking to fathom our physical proximity to the earth and its core, yet we never feel more distant from our environment after a sudden loss. We exist in the same room as others, yet our heart and mind soar miles away. There is comfort in solitude, and simultaneously there exists comfort in support. Grief never fully fades, but over time it slowly dims. Shunry Suzuki accentuates the tormenting aspect of transience with his claim “because we cannot accept the truth, we suffer”. Only after acceptance, and acknowledgement, can we proceed into the next phase of our lives. Although one should not discard of the pain or its memories, gradual acceptance bestows the power upon us to process and move on, and not allow grief to anchor us to the past, and the relationships we have left behind.