I am so afraid of writing this.
Afraid it won’t be perfect because each person that I am going to write about deserves nothing less.
I am afraid to pull the words out because I know that to do so means dusting off old, cavernous wounds—some scabbed over and partially healed, some still fresh and raw—and poking at them with my pen until they bleed ink onto the paper.
I am afraid that talking about my grief is a selfish thing. I am afraid that I am not grieving, or have not grieved, in the right way. I am afraid for people to see, and know, and judge. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion that I am the only one judging myself here.
But I need to talk about it. These feelings have mounted in pressure until they reached critical mass, and now, they must spill out lest the valve rupture and myself along with it. So, here it is: An essay on Death, Loss, and Grief in four parts (It might be less, it might be more. At this point I only have some scattered thoughts and outpourings of emotion in no particular order. I will polish and order them as best I can into some cohesive expression of what I need to say).
I am writing this for myself, because I need to talk about it, and that’s OK (I just have to keep telling myself that until I believe it). I am also writing this for anyone else who finds themselves pinned down by the weight of grief, snared within its unrelenting grasp. We often keep the landslide of emotion within for far too long because some social taboo prevents us from touching upon painful subjects with others, even friends and family—inevitably burying ourselves beneath that burden in the process. As if that darkness would then encroach upon the other and drag them down. So we avoid it, and we hold it in, and we suffer in stoic silence because somewhere along the way we learned that this was the brave thing to do.
Unsteady emotion and depth of feeling are not markers of weakness. Speaking about the pain that assails you, seeking remedy in resonance is no sign of selfishness. Reaching out for comfort is not cowardice. Holding a force like that inside, now that’s dangerous.
So, let’s do it. Let’s talk about Death. Let’s talk about Loss. Let’s talk about Grief.
Let’s touch on each of these subjects, and not just give a cursory glance over the staples that are somewhat socially acceptable—let’s rip that protective covering off the pieces you feel like you need to keep hidden from even your best of friends.
Let’s talk about the feelings that leave you ashamed and exposed and vulnerable. Then maybe we can take a step back, compare, and admit we all have remarkably similar furniture cluttering up our psyches. Don’t let them gather too much dust.
Three deaths whose impact played a seminal role in shaping my life and who I am as a person, and one that is just beginning to make its mark.
This is for Will Lucas, this is for Theo Guarriello, this is for Bebe, this is for Grandaddy Bill.