grief feels so much like fear

It’s been three days since grandpa slipped out the door. My heart has been seeping in this grief for three days, but it feels like it has been weeks.

Grief is tiresome. It feels like I’m physically sick. I feel unrested, sluggish… sometimes I wake up with a headache and other times it feels like my heart is overworking itself.

I also feel unsteady, unsure of what will trigger the tears. Most of the time I walk around as if everything is normal, as if nothing happened… then a memory is triggered, I come to another realization about how life is now, and I’m falling again. I’m laughing with people at one moment, and I’m on my knees crying in the next. I feel skittish, uncertain. I feel like I’m looking for a place of safety, but haven’t found it yet.

I read through A Grief Observed by CS Lewis a long time ago, in order to try to understand what grief looked like. But I had no idea, truly no idea how grief truly felt, I had only the vaguest inclination of it. Just reading through the first page again brings tears to my eyes, because my heart is resonating with it so heavily:

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

I wrote in one of my recent journal entries that grief is divisive, that I feel utterly alone, and I saw that even more today. Everyone was outside laughing and talking to one another. Old me would have joined in a heartbeat, old me would have chosen in. Today, I couldn’t muster up the energy to even try to be present. Today, the laughter was grating to my ears. Today the gap between where I stand in my hurt and where everyone is widened, and all I wanted to do was bury myself away where everything was silent and still.

I’m trying to come up with an analogy of how I’m feeling… my heart feels like it’s been sunburnt, then kicked around, and stomped on. It feels like there is an open wound with sand in it that keeps getting reopened. I’ve gone through anger and sorrow so much in the past three days than I ever have in a lifetime. My heart is TIRED. Just TIRED.

I am struggling to keep a smile on my face. I hate that my sadness makes people uncomfortable, so I play it off: “I’m okay, I’ll be okay, just give it time”. I’m tired of saying that, so I just avoid people in general. It is why I didn’t go to church today, I didn’t want to slap on a smile and explain grandpa’s death over and over again, I didn’t want to receive the uncomfortable pity of others, and yet I didn’t want everyone to continue on as normal. Because what is normal anymore? This is the first time in my life that I have lived in a world where my grandpa doesn’t exist. I’m trying to re-orient myself.

I’m still at the bottom of this pit, and I’m not ready to climb out of it. I’m honestly not ready to engage in healing yet. I know my way out, but I don’t have the energy to start climbing.

So everyone, I’m sorry if I start cancelling the one-on-ones we made. I’m sorry that I can’t hang out with people. I’m sorry that I’m not going to be present with you all right now. I’m sorry that I’m going to be turning down plans to hang out with you all. I’m sorry if I’m not laughing as hard at your jokes as I used to. I’m sorry if I’m not keeping up good conversation on my end. I’m sorry if it seems like I’m spaced out. I’m sorry.

I need to let myself just exist. I need to adjust to this new reality of life. I need to grieve. I need to breathe. 

This song is exactly where I’m at right now, in case you’re wondering:

You could plant me like a tree beside a river
You could tangle me in soil and let my roots run wild
And I would blossom like a flower in the desert
But for now just let me cry

You could raise me like a banner in the battle
Put victory like fire behind my shining eyes
And I would drift like falling snow over the embers
But for now just let me lie

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and bring me back to life
But not before you show me how to die

Set me like a star before the morning
Like a sun that steals the darkness from a world asleep
And I’ll illuminate the path You’ve laid before me
But for now just let me be

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and bring me back to life
But not before You show me how to die
No, not before You show me how to die

So let me go like a leaf upon the water
Let me brave the wild currents flowing to the sea
And I will disappear into a deeper beauty
But for now just stay with me
God, for now just stay with me

-Soli Deo Gloria


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