I’ve come to the conclusion that grief is a state of being rather than an emotion. This is based on the fact that I’ve always been quite good at controlling my emotions, but for the past couple of months I’ve been unpredictable and unsteady. I forget important daily tasks. I burst into tears without provocation. I lose track of time.
Grief cannot be defined, and it can’t be contained. I’ve suffered several losses over the past two months and I’m unable to tease out what I’m mourning when I feel that gut punch of despair. The death of a parent? A pet? A friendship? My way of life? It’s impossible to determine the source of the pain I feel in a specific moment, and though I feel I should prioritise a more important loss over a lesser one, I can’t. Grief doesn’t care about hierarchy or social convention.
It seems wrong, but losing a loyal ally I’ve had all of my life isn’t worse than the regret of losing the fight to save a beloved pet. Watching my family business slip away doesn’t feel substantially different from knowing I’m an actual orphan. It’s a grotesque tangle of sadness, anger, and loss I feel I’ll never be able to unpick, yet I know it will get better.
Maybe the trick is not trying to intellectualise this process. It can’t be healthy trying to keep grief-driven emotions in tidy little boxes at arm’s length. They must be felt whether I want to or not. I know there is peace and acceptance on the other side of grief. The challenge is to go through it instead of trying to go around it.