You would think that as someone who types away at her laptop, films skating videos on Instagram talking about loss, hosts workshops or online grief groups, you would think I would be pretty good at talking about grief.
To my credit, I think I’m pretty good. In my journals I write lengthy descriptions of my pain, of the secondary losses I experience, how deeply I’m missing Mum. I can help others understand their loss with metaphors and similes.
I am so good when I am humbly sat by myself, with a pen gripped in my hands.
Recently, I have been feeling a deep set loneliness encasing my heart, keeping her far from everyone else. Mother’s Day slowly appears in the future, and I begin to get afraid. Afraid for being alone, for having no one to bring flowers to or sit quietly next to. Sometimes I just want to be selfish in my loss. To just be angry, to be scared, to not have to even say anything to anyone.
When Mother’s Day comes up, the loss of a mother becomes isolating. You don’t want to trigger your sisters, and you want your friends to celebrate their mothers deeply. You wouldn’t want them to worry about you on that day. It is easier to talk about your pain to strangers, people with beautiful distance, rather than the people you love dearly.
Sometimes I wonder if I think there is strength in it; to hold myself away from everyone. I don’t think I really do believe it’s strong, I think it is just easier for me to avoid the feeling of being exposed, or to shy away from the torchlight of someone else’s gaze.
I was on the phone yesterday, and I was crying. I gripped my phone to my ear, twisting on my chair the way I twisted my hair between my fingers. I felt hot, my tears dried cold on my face. My nose stuffy and blocked. I remember thinking “How did I get here?”
I wanted to say sorry and retract my statements. I wanted to pop my ribs back in place, zip up my skin and pretend it never happened. Was I afraid of opening up, or was I more afraid of acknowledging how worried I was for Mother’s Day?
Grief tells us that our person has passed away, and we will never be loved the same way again. We won’t be; but there are so many people who are willing to just try. Yet sometimes, I am not just afraid of opening up because I don’t know what people say. I am afraid because somehow, so far on, opening up makes mum’s death real again.
I will leave you with a small bit of hope that I was told yesterday.
“I won’t always get it right, I might not know what to say all the time. But I’m willing to go there, and I’m willing to hear anything you have to say.”
Sometimes I need to extend that logic to myself. I’m willing to go there with someone else. I don’t always have to be alone.
What else would you want to hear, when you open up about your loss? What would you want to say to yourself about vulnerability?