What’s missing from the picture

As some of you might already know, this period is rather tough for me, as I’ve recently lost a loved person. But this has also given me the context and space to better understand myself and my emotional dynamic, as I’m passing through the whole grieving process.

Grief is, to put it in a poetic way, the daughter of love. Is what’s left when a dear person leaves us. It doesn’t matter if we talk about someone’s death or about being left by those we were holding dear. It is loss, and loss is painful. That easy.

But this whole pain is never just about the present moment. More often it is about the future moments that person will be missing from our lives. Maybe our first job, our graduation, our wedding. Milestones where we’d love that person’s presence around us.

Currently, my main struggle is to accept that there is no such thing as a right way of living the grief. That the fact that I’m active on Social Media, paint my nails and I’m not wearing only dark clothes is not the expression of me being over it. It’s hard because of the social conditioning that surrounds this kind of moment. The social imperatives of what should and should not be done in such contexts.

Here, though, the grief is about something else. About the small gestures that no one else will be doing for us again. About the way that person smiled or comforted us. About the moments that person will be missing.

Grief is a void. An empty space, a trace left by someone we’ve deeply cared about. And managing it might be hard and uncomfortable at times. It’s personal, intimate, and unique, there is no such thing as two individuals grieving in the same way.

I can only share what I’ve learned so far, hoping it will help more people with their mental struggles.

  • It’s okay to feel good

At first, the moments when I was feeling good, authentically good, were followed by guilt trips. As if I wasn’t doing things right if I could, still, feel good. Until the moment when I realized, sitting in the sun, that she wanted me to feel good. To be happy. And if that person wanted me to feel good with my life while she was part of it, she definitely would have the same attitude now.

  • Stick to a routine

One of the best things you can do during a tough time is sticking to a clear routine. Small habits, daily practice. It helps you adapt to the new reality: a reality where that person is no longer living. But you do still live there, so try to make it easy, not a burden.

  • Do things that make you happy about yourself

It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it has to make you smile. For me, this moment was while cutting the first flowers from my garden and putting them in a vase on my desk. I was happy to see their beauty, feel their fragrance, and I’ve smiled thinking about how much she loved this kind of thing.

  • Revisit your memories with that person

I’m not sure if our loved ones ever leave us, to be fair. There is a part of me that likes to believe that they still hang around somewhere, laughing at our clumsiness and bad decisions. And I might be old-fashioned, but do you remember those photos with you? Go and pass through them. Revisit those moments, the details of the memories you’ve got together. Remember the things you’ve learned from that person. I remember often things she loved, or things she has told me. I also know that, as long as I don’t forget, she’s not dead. Because people die only when those that could tell stories about them will die.

  • Plan your future

Grief tends to make you live in the past. Don’t. Instead, do your best and plan your future. Do it how you feel it. Maybe put together a vision board, or set some goals you want to reach, this is all up to you. Just take the time to reflect on it and establish the small steps you need to take. Your loved ones, even if they’ve passed away, will love to see you succeed.

  • Reach out for support

Say it after me, loud and clear: I’m not weak for needing help. I’m not weak for needing help. Because it’s true, you’re not. Just a human that has to pass an incredibly challenging period of their lives. Talk about it. Be honest about it. Let your dear ones know that you struggle with integrating that loss. It’s okay. It really is. Some of us need more help than others, and it’s perfectly fine. This, as I have said before, is a deeply personal and intimate process. If you feel like the help of a counselor would be beneficial, go ahead and make that appointment. No one has ever been born ready for such life contexts.

This is what I’ve learned so far about dealing with a loved one’s loss. That you need to maintain your composure and take things slowly, one day at a time, without any kind of guilt trips or remorses. You did your best, and definitely has been enough for them, as it should be for you as well. So try to give yourself some credit. It doesn’t seem like it, but you’re doing a great job. And one day, the sun will shine again, as bright and warm as you remember it used to.

#fantásia

fantezie. fantasmă. fantasmagorie. agonia
lumi
care se întâlnesc fără să se despartă,
visul
a spart deja granițele cu realitatea,
invazia are forma zilei de mâine,
Șeherezada stă derutată într-o
poveste orientală sucită, distopie, citește
în cafea; sfârșitul
nu mai e nici măcar previzibil,
fericirea se mută la mituri personale

un apus, două apusuri, dor
de portocaliul cu subton de roz celest
ce-a păzit nașterea unei povești,
durerea
de sub stern se întoarce spărgând ușa,
cu zgomot, se separă
de liniștea cu care a plecat. prietenie
unilaterală, indivizibilă de ritmul vieții.

o dimineață, două dimineți, ceață.
reflexia din oglindă e tot
ce mai recunosc. corpul meu
singura realitate controlabilă.
cum am ajuns
să nu mai văd decât dezastru
în propria viață?

vina devine materială, un zid
de care mă izbesc cu toată ființa.
6 litere și datoria
de a rămâne. acum mai mult decât oricând
tot ce pot face-i să rămân pe loc
chiar și atunci
când nimeni altcineva nu mai rămâne
mai ales atunci…

fantezia se termină cu mirosul
de pâine caldă și cafea. realitatea
mușcă din ființa mea, lup tânăr și lacom

nu judec. ai plecat
înaintea singurului moment
când aș fi avut nevoie să rămâi,
azi văd lumea cu proprii ochi și știu
că viața mi-a fost miză într-un joc de demult
și că într-o bună zi o să mor,
ca toate femeile din neamul meu,
înecându-mă cu adevărul,
captivă-n propriul suflet pe care
n-am apucat la timp să-l pun pe mut.

Me, my grief and I

During the last few days, as I’ve been trying to understand and name what I am feeling, a word was spinning across my mind over and over again- grief. Defined by the American Psychological Association as the anguish experienced after significant loss, usually the death of a beloved person, but it is so much more. The notion of grief can be extended to any major loss encountered by an individual: the loss of a lifestyle, a job, a dear person, a pet or whatever was bringing meaning into the person’s life. We’re constantly grieving a lot of things, as it is a huge part of managing our losses.

This happens because what we’ve lost had a big meaning for us, maybe it was also a big investment- we often grieve relationships and things we’ve put our soul, time, energy and effort into, but grief is way more complex than just that. According to the same association, grief often includes physiological distress, separation anxiety, confusion, yearning, obsessive dwelling on the past, and apprehension about the future. This is a clear image of how rich are the shades of such a feeling and, by extent, how important it is to be seen and managed accordingly.

As I’m writing this piece, I look outside my window, seeing the snow falling on the forest that comes to life slowly, and I recall everything I’m grieving. All the little things, the chances I didn’t take when I was put in front of them, all the people I’ve never got to say hi to because I was shy…

The context we’re currently living in made me aware of a lot of things. Small things, small gestures now I regret that I’ve never made. All the compliments I didn’t get to make and every truth that I’ve avoided to say, in order to protect my peace and fragile-anyhow balance.

And, because nothing’s ever black and white, I have, as I write this article, a revelation: nostalgia is only grief in disguise.

That explains a lot. The memories I tend on recalling often, the hope that it will, soon, be everything “normal” again…a lot. It even explains why I miss worrying about what am I going to wear tomorrow, or the sprint after the bus. Because being trapped in a present continuous is just exhausting. It makes you fall into a loop of grief, in shapes that you’re not aware of being ways of manifesting grief.

You feel nostalgic, regretting things and periods of your life, often remorseful on how could you’ve done things better. These are, all, ways of grieving.

I can’t say that I will make things better after all this is going to end. But I will certainly tell those people what bothers me about them. I will go out with the dear ones that I keep postponing over and over. I will go into that coffee shop and tell that barista what an awesome guy he is, and how I’d wish to have discovered the place earlier. Basically, all the tiny things that my timidity stopped me from doing. It will not be huge, it will not change the world, but it will change me, for better or worse.  

Because, and that’s another bitter discovery I’ve made, the opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude, but grief, as it is making us hold on to some old ties, most of them cutting new scars into our souls.