My brother is dead.
Both my maternal grandparents are dead.
My great aunt just died Oct. 15, on the six-year anniversary of my brother dying.
I didn’t process the emotions or cry until I saw a sad video about something that has nothing to do with my grief.
People just don’t understand that grief isn’t quick. Let me grieve my own way and at my own pace.
According to John Hopkin’s Medicine, there are two types of grief: anticipatory grief, where people know death is soon, and sudden lost, where the death is, well, sudden. Unexpected.
I have gone through both.
I watched my grandmother write her will and plan her funeral with her children. We had hospice workers and family coming and going at all times.
People think this type of grief is easier. It’s not. The planning doesn’t lessen the pain. It’s just more time to swear at the world and lay on the railroad tracks and debate if being hit by a train would be less painful.
I fell to my knees and screamed at a Golden Corral when my dad called to say my brother had been in a fatal car crash. I had a similar reaction in my dorm hallway when Mom called to say Papa died in his sleep.
I was supposed to call Papa the night he died. I just forgave myself this month for not calling. He died back in March of 2017.
According to pretty much every therapist, grief is considered a process. We are supposed to go through the stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. Fit each emotion in its box to be checked off and move along.
What a crock of s---.
Grieving isn’t a checklist. Believe me, I wish it was. I would much rather take a week to go through each stage individually and be done.
It doesn’t work like that.
People expect the bereaved to cry and move on.
They want them to check the boxes and go back to normal. There is no going back to normal after a death.
I tried. I smiled. I cracked jokes. I still crack jokes like “I’m finally taller than my brother by six feet,” or “Papa said I could on that Minneapolis trip over his dead body. I didn’t think he meant literally.”
I did everything I could not to let the fragile glass of emotion shatter and spill over everything.
Grieving takes time. It takes months and years. Even when we reach the acceptance stage, it’s not over. We don’t just magically move on.
I am still grieving. I’m still grieving after six years, after three years, after two years.
People who are grieving after years aren’t milking the tragedy. We are trying to process the part of us that died with our loved one.
Just let us grieve.