Grief: The Other Side of Love.
Grief: The other side of love.
Sipping a cold drink, I watch on as my almost 90 year old grandpa bounces (well, creaks!) about playing badminton with grandchildren and great grandchildren falling about in laughter, joyous smiles on their faces, the delight on grandpa’s face as he hits the shuttle cock over the net. The glee and the enthusiasm he incites in others is contagious.
My grandpa died on Alex’s birthday a few days ago. He was 92. There is no doubt that there is comfort in the fact he had led a long and fulfilled life, that he was so incredible and touched the lives of so many, that his legacy will live on. But it is still sad, and it still hurts. I adored him, I have always looked up to him and we were extremely close. Knowing that you will never have a conversation with that person again, hug them, be in their presence in comfortable silence, all the things you will not ever have again in this physical realm cause pain.
I woke in the early hours last night, tears erupting, it took me a second to remember, I felt engulfed in sadness, at first my natural inclination was to fight it, get out of bed or scroll for a bit to distract myself. But I know grief, I know sadness, I have been here, I know that I need to go in, feeling it moves it, dislodges it, all feelings are malleable when you allow them - so I fell into this void of sadness, dark and empty. When you surrender to a feeling, you are not giving up, it is quite the opposite – you are permitting it to just be, and it is in the allowing that you become more confidant in moving through hard places. As I lay in the darkness of my room in the nothingness of the dead of night, I allowed (slightly fearfully) the sadness to completely envelop me, I breathed and felt, and touched it, every single bit and I realised I was not actually exposed, as I had thought I would be, I was in fact protected, as though in a cocoon. This is, I thought, the other side of love.
For all the laughter, tears, games, chats, whistling, phone calls, hugs, hand holding, consoling, card playing, meals, cups of tea and biscuits, bird watching, beach going, trips out, shouting down the phone as his hearing aids squeak – with these gone, the emptiness fills. This is what grief is, it is a harsh wintery ground of bleakness but as you begin to navigate, slowly, definitely, as you tend to it, the love that was shared, the love that was felt begins to come alive in you again.
It is without this person being present anymore, which in some ways makes it all the more beautiful, because it is the deliberate sowing they did in their lives of choices they made, how they loved and comported themselves, that reaps, in generations after, an influence that builds an innate knowing.
To carry your loved one into the future with you is important – it helps us grieve and to not feel ‘everything is lost’. Their life had purpose, and it does not have to end at their death.
Winding my finger around a lock of my daughter’s hair, I kiss her head and smile at her – ‘why are you always looking at me?’ she asks. The truth is, I watch my kids in wonder and in awe and with delight at the fact I get to grow up witnessing the people they are becoming. I look at them often because they’re my people, they are the product of ancestors, they are Alex and me and so many traits and energies carried forward – the good and the bad! Bringing that person forward with you when they are no longer in the physical realm is a conscious choice. It is about recognising who they have made you, how they have influenced you, the time shared, good and bad. You can learn from everything, especially the challenging and the bad. The bad – whether it leaves you in screaming unheard rage, or an awareness of who you don’t want to be - it can form you in the most eloquent way. We, the ones left, get to choose. And it is those who allow themselves to be broken open and reconstructed time and time again, to be utterly depleted and lost, but push the door open enough to let love, eventually flood back in – that we are reformed stronger with deeper love each time. It is in the torture of loss, the messy, the hurt, the rage, the confusion – experiencing this is holding the other side of love.
It hurts to be on the other side of love, but it is still intrinsically linked. A symbiotic relationship with its turns and flips and twists and twirls – it is the dance of life, the partnership with others, that is love, that is grief, that is it; in its allness.
Remind yourself who you are because of that person, bring them along with you this way, don’t leave them in the past. Even if you had an unhealthy relationship with that person, it can be healed by making choices to not follow the same path – therein lies a powerful teaching.
At my granny’s funeral, I held my grandpa’s hand. At my great granny’s funeral, I sat with him and held his hand - I will not be by his side holding his hand this time – I can only hope he will be by mine, holding mine. I miss him.
Grandpa, you were extraordinary, a character no one who came across you will ever forget! I will miss you and carry you with me in the lessons I teach my children, as I try and emanate the enthusiasm for life you exuded – thank you that you were there, watching me grow, for the prayers you held over me, the time you dedicated to me and the love you showed me no matter what. I loved you.
Tonnes of love (as you would always write),