I woke up today like a little girl at my first sleepover—my eyes opened and I forgot I was somewhere different. I thought I was in my own bedroom, tucked away into my own world. But then I woke up to light shining through a different window. The temperature is colder than I remember. The blanket doesn’t comfort me like the one I’m used to. This is how grief greeted me this morning.
The five stages of grief are known as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They’re packaged into a neat little box with step-by-step instructions. But I hate this because it’s not neat at all. Grief is everything unexpected hitting me at unexpected moments. It’s going from shock, to disbelief, to fist-clenching tears, to nostalgia. It’s a constant, numbing thundercloud hanging over my head, to a paint-streaked sunset that makes me feel at peace. It’s a clamoring bounce back and forth between moving forward and being yanked back. It’s not simple.
Someone once said to me that losing a person you’re close to, especially when you’re young, is like a loss of innocence; and I can’t shake the feeling that they’re right. Grief can stamp time—marking a day, month, or year, with a distinction of before and after, a contrast between black and white. I’ve begun to look at grief like a person though, because like a person, it’s complicated and confusing and I can’t read its mind no matter how hard I try.
Grief came in with a forceful handshake, leaving me no other choice but to wrap my fingers around theirs and face what’s in front of me. Grief has tried to carefully comfort me after tearing through my world. Grief leaves and then comes back. They say everyone you meet in life is either a love or a lesson, but I just wish I’d never met grief in the first place.