some thoughts on grief while grieving30 Mar 2021
i write for the sake of my future self and hope that writing for myself in public is useful for at least one other person.
- UPDATE: Chiles student killed in North Meridian Road crash
- ‘Just a really lovable guy’: Chiles community mourning loss of freshman in fatal North Meridian crash
- the distance between my near fatal car crash in high school and my nephew’s car crash yesterday morning
stream of consciousness
when i woke up, i read the text from my mom several times. at the time, i told myself i just must be reading it wrong. in hindsight, i know that moment was denial and disbelief. i tripped over the word ‘killed’ every time. i tried replacing it with ‘liked’ but then the sentence didn’t make sense so i read it again. when it finally clicked, i called.
there is nothing that gets to my heart faster than my mom when she is disregulated. it was probably the most heartwrenching 60-second phone call i’ve ever had. she was making sense and communicating clearly but panicked, out of breath, and deeply upset. i slowly put my head down on the desk and cried with her. i told her she was safe and i was safe. i told her i loved her. she said she’d call when she had more info. we hung up.
i kept crying. when i lifted my head, the pool of tears on my desk was quite pretty in the clear morning sun. that made me cry all over again.
i knew i needed to be in my body so i went to do my daily sun salutations. as i moved from uttanasana to ardha uttanasna, tears started flowing again. i remembered that my grief really shows up in my back. i just stood, bent over, crying. eventually, the flow stopped and i finished my practice.
i am deeply grateful for my community for holding me as things got real. over the course of the day, i had friends bring me lunch/breakfast and dinner, go on in-person walks and porch sits, phone walks and calls in bed, help think about travel, bringing spiritual supplies and more.
grief is a portal. i was reminded of this in many ways yesterday.
some feelings and thoughts (many of which are useless/meaningless/reactionary/typical):
- i am angry at my nephew! why would he do this?!?! why did he sneak out? why didn’t he just listen to his mom?
- i am angry at the kid who picked my nephew up. wtf, man? you just killed my nephew. fuck you.
- i am regretful. i snuck out a bunch when i was my nephew’s age. i am grateful i didn’t die.
- why do we create a world for young people in which sneaking out feels like a reasonable thing to do? fuck parenting that drives kids to do stupid shit.
- my nephew’s mom is gonna be wrecked forever.
- there are so many black moms who are wrecked by their children being taken early.
- my nephew’s brother “went to bed a little brother and woke up an only child.” — ren barriner (my little brother). he is gonna be messed up forever. or… what would i take for him not to be?
- some day, me or my brother are going to be the remaining brother. what can we do to prepare for that now? even today? what do i need to say to him that i haven’t?
- i was in a near-fatal car accident when i was a little older than my nephew approximately 4 miles away in which my friend was also driving. wtf is that?
- i feel protective of my nephew’s mom. i hope someone is protecting her emotionally from her ex.
- i feel compassion for my nephew’s dad who lives several states away. who is tending to him? it shouldn’t be my nephew’s mom but it needs to be someone (or else that untended to anger, rage, regret, sadness, grief, trauma is gonna spread and, sooner or later, it’s not gonna be pretty because patriarchy).
other other thoughts
grief is not just one feeling.
it feels hard to be taken care of while grieving. and yet, i know i have so much desire to take care of others when they are grieving.
one of the hardest parts of taking time to grieve is that i fully feel like i could be working. i feel like it wouldn’t be that hard to just roll into tasks and get them done. to roll into facilitation and pull it off. i could definitely definitely do that… but…
taking time to grieve makes sense (i am telling myself this partly because i am resisting doing it). but, grief and trauma seem similar in a way… if you leave yourself time to fully feel and move through the grief, letting all the thoughts and feelings come up and move through, then they don’t get tamped down, repressed, or avoided. when they can move proximate to the loss, they move and make space for other things to be felt. this is why it makes sense to take the time at the time of the loss. when you suppress the thoughts, they sublimate into your mind and/or literally lodge in your body (resisting feeling an emotion is a physical process). when the conditions arise again that are similar to the moment when the emotion was suppressed last time, it can come back up… and with vigor!
so i am taking time to grieve. even though it’s hard and feels like i shouldn’t be. even though i feel guilty about all the work i’m not doing. even though i feel like i am letting folks down, especially BIPOC. i am trusting that all my friends and community telling me i should take the time are right (and i know i have said this to other folks in the past but like i said, it’s extra hard when it’s you).
i am trusting that when i come back, i will be whole and present and able to show up for whatever got dropped while i was gone. ::fingers crossed::