Jun. 26th, 2017

Grieving

Jun. 26th, 2017 10:17 am
mackenzie: (Weather - Thundersunny)
Each morning, I wake up and they're still dead.

Sometimes I think about it. Sometimes I don't. It remains true regardless. I don't expect otherwise.

Four people dead in six months. A friend and once lover. A professional mentor. A beloved colleague. An old friend. Each death with varying levels of suddenness, surprise, preventability, and relief.

I've not struggled with grief in the past. Deaths came at leisurely intervals, always expected or distant enough that the grief flowed through me on its own and resolved to a manageable hum. But the first death, eight months ago now, was the first close friend to die, as well as the first person loosely in my age cohort. This grief is different.

Each subsequent death has further destabilized me. I frequently find myself feeling cold and struggle to get warm. Layer upon layer of clothing and scalding hot showers have little effect. Eventually the cold gets whatever it came for and moves on. I sometimes look up and realize I've lost the last twenty minutes and I don't know how I arrived at this moment. Socializing can be hard.

June 10th was the last memorial on my calendar until the next person dies, for the woman who served with me as co-president of my high school's gay-straight alliance. We were deeply connected for two years in high school, but that faded when she graduated. We hadn't seen each other in about fifteen years, but shared the infrequent, distant contact of Facebook friendship. I don't miss her presence. I notice her absence.

The memorial was a disjointed, uncomfortable affair. When a speaker would break and begin to cry, they'd stop and chastise themselves.

"This isn't what she would have wanted. She would have wanted us to remember the good times and celebrate. She wouldn't have wanted us to feel sad."

While I grappled with my feelings about this most recent death and whether to attend the funeral at all, Jon repeatedly told me "Funerals are for the living." Listening to her friends and family speak of her, and indirectly chastise me for feeling sadness at her death, I thought about this and became angry. I get "she wouldn't want you to feel sad" is a thing people say, but I don't get why it's considered so thoroughly reasonable. She's dead. I straight up don't care what she wants. Feeling sad at the loss of a life is achingly normal.

In short, when I die, feel free to experience the full range of emotions that accompany death and grief, including sadness.

It's what I would have wanted.

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MacKenzie

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