I wanted to share a personal story of grieving with you, because sometimes a personal story says more than just thoughts or intellectual writings.
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 – a cavern full of memories (a personal grief)
I’ve just come home from the cemetery, which is a beautiful large place, full of trees and peace.
We visited my aunt – the first time I’ve been – and it hit me harder than I expected, seeing her name in gold lettering on the black stone headstone. I was caught in my heart by something quite painful and sharp that brought tears to my eyes and made me feel as if the bottom of my heart had opened up into some deeper cavern full of emotions that usually remain hidden.
We sat a while in silence and I rested my hands at the foot of her stone slab, stroking it with my fingers as if it were her arm, like I did the last time I saw her. I had a flash in my mind of climbing into the grave and curling up on her lap, as I used to as a child, snuggling into her cuddly body. Part of me really wished that I could, only I know that the body that lies there now is no longer cuddly in the same way and it doesn’t hold the person I loved anymore.
It was good to know where she lies now and to see the trees around her and to hear the birds singing. It’s a nice final resting place.
As time passed, the tears stopped flowing and the sadness began to lift, replaced only with peace and a certain clarity about what I need to do in life. I now feel shattered. I hadn’t realised it would take so much out of me. I suppose opening the cavern full of emotions takes a lot of effort and perhaps closing the door on that cavern is difficult too. I also suppose, or perhaps I know, that this was important for me.
It’s all part of the process and it’s a process many of us don’t like to return to, but death is not going to stop happening and as we get older, it will become ever more frequent. Better to start coping with it properly now than to wait until that cavern is so full that it becomes impossible to enter. As well as the sadness, the cavern is full of photos and videos, memories of what has been. These are all valuable gifts that can teach us about how to be happier in our own lives. It’s all part of the process.