Yesterday, as I was getting ready for bed, bone-tired, I absentmindedly scrolled through Facebook one last time before sleep (because, you know, what if a catastrophe happened and I didn’t know for 6 hours?) As I scrolled, the title of a Huffpost article caught my eye: Here Is What You Do When You Are Grieving.
I’ve read lots of grieving articles. They’re usually about death rather than heartbreak, however heartbreak is very much like something is dying.
In my sleepy haze I clicked, what the hell, and decided to read a few lines. Then a few more. This was not like the other articles. OMG. But … but … but that’s how I felt! That’s what I went through! It’s was my very actions, my very thoughts & feelings, my coping. It was as if the words came from my mind – however I’m not nearly as good of a writer to have stepped outside myself to portray my heartbroken grief so accurately.
I was in tears, bursting out, audible sobs. This, yes, this. Somebody else felt this too. They knew this pain. It was a humanizing experience. I was not alone in this grief.
I can’t just say all that and not share it with you, right? So this is shared without permission but I’ll take it down if requested. But these words should be shared. Everybody should understand the death that comes with heartbreak; the mind-numbing grief.
Read these words:
Here Is What You Do When You Are Grieving
by Katherine Fritz
You spend some time curled into tiny spaces. They are useful for this. Big, open rooms give you too much space for your wild thoughts to tangle and knot. If you curl yourself into a small place and sit there, you will ultimately feel cramped or foolish or angry enough to leave and make yourself a cup of tea.
You make yourself a cup of tea. Even if you don’t particularly like tea. Warm liquids are good when the back of your throat is burning like you’ve smoked a thousand rotten cigarettes and you can feel the weight of your mistakes trickling down into your fibers and your muscles and burrowing underneath your eyes, your breasts, your heart, your bones. You wrap your hands around the cup and you press your cheek and your eyelids to the side of the porcelain mug and you focus on what warm feels like, you remember the word ‘warm,’ you think it to yourself, quietly, because small thoughts are useful right now.
You learn to trust who you talk to. The best ones will comfort and pretend to understand even if they don’t. The best ones will understand if you want to be alone, and will understand if you change your mind about what you want. The best ones will not make you feel foolish for appearing vulnerable and weak.
Weakness and vulnerability are not the same. In case you’d forgotten. It is sometimes helpful to remember this.
You spend some time with distractions. I like drinking, and I like television, and I like sex, although that can be tricky because it is easy to mistake one particular kind of intimacy for another. Distractions are useful. Most people like distractions. Many people spend their entire lives with such beautiful, such glowing distractions. I can see why.
You think about soft things, like cotton sweatpants, and fleece blankets, and flannel sheets, and creamy pasta. You indulge. People who are grieving do not want to put on high-heeled shoes and mascara. They do not want to wear tummy-slimming pantyhose. They do not want to order salads.
You turn your brain into a film projector. You replay the movie you’ve unwittingly starred in, again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again until you think you might understand the sequence of events, if not the meaning. You replay it endlessly, at night, at breakfast, while reading, on the phone, while looking at the Internet, while picking at your nails, while shopping for toilet paper, again and again and again and again.
You remind yourself how breathing works, how sleeping works, how going to work works. You teach yourself basic lessons as if you were a child: It is time to clean up after yourself, time to take a shower, time to behave, time to leave the house today. You notice the circles under your eyes, and you buy some makeup in an inexpensive mirrored compact, and although you do not think anything of it at the time, it feels significant, when you reflect upon it later.
If you are phenomenally lucky, and I know that I am, you wake up one day to discover that you very much feel like moving your legs off the bed and placing them on the floor. You feel like lifting your head from the pillow and swiveling your torso and moving to an upright position and maybe even splashing some water on your face and brewing some coffee. You notice that you want to wear a brightly-colored sundress because it will look pretty on your skin; you discover on your commute that there are windows and doors and telephone wires and flowerpots and building placards and crumbling sidewalks that you’ve seen a thousand times but never really noticed. You watch a family in a park and you think you might start to cry, but not for any reason that can be explained, and then you are not crying, you are smiling, or maybe you are doing both, and then and then and then in a sudden release, you start to notice everything. You notice your fingertips. You notice your heartbeat. You notice your body and it all feels like your own. You notice other people. You notice everything. You wonder how you’ve never seemed to notice just how big everything is.
You start to think it is all so impossible. You start to think it’s all incredibly possible.
You start to think that maybe you’re okay.
Thank God for words. For wordsmiths. For poets. For lyricists. Thank you, Katherine Fritz.
ETA: I found the original blogger and blog! So, giving credit where due, here’s her blog and this posting: http://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2014/06/25/here-is-what-you-do-when-you-are-grieving/.
Remember, you are not alone.
All my love,