UBC Day 6: The Shape of Grief

CW: This post deals with death, Covid-19, and a whole host of feelings that may be too much for people to read right now.

I don’t like writing or talking about death. People always say that it is a part of life, something that is inevitable like taxes and the popularity of marshmallow peeps every Easter. The fact is that death scares me. It isn’t just that it will happen, but the how. It is something that I have always feared and when people bring it up, I tend to try to change the subject in a subtle way.

Along with death comes the complication of grief, an emotion and a process that is malleable and ever-changing. Whenever I think I understand the shape of grief, it turns itself inside out and takes me right along with it. And I wonder if experts even know what the hell, they are talking about at all. So great, there are books about grief. So what? Written words can’t even come close to the feelings that it leaves or what you are supposed to do with them.

Tonight, I write this blog post with a heavy heart because a vibrant, funny, warm, generous, amazing, gentle woman is now gone because of Covid-19. She touched so many people and was a gentle soul. And yet, when people read about her, when her death is announced, her legacy is just written up as the first in the county to die of the disease. Then people will say that she was older and had underlying health conditions, as though it’s a reasonable thing that she would be gone. They say it as though it makes complete sense to them and then will look at the other numbers that are sure to come, make the same comments, and keep being self-entitled windbags.

My friend should be remembered for her love of crochet. She should be remembered for her big heart, her infectious laugh, her kind spirit, and her amazing hugs. She should be remembered because she has loved every guide dog I have ever had, pet them unreservedly with permission of course, and would always tease me with a ‘Hi (insert guide dog’s name here)’ in an excited voice only to then say ‘Hi Meka’ in a more subdued one. It was our joke. She should be remembered for her love of books and participation in a book club I belonged to some time ago. She should be remembered for the love that she wore on her sleeve for her husband, who died three years before she did. She told great stories and had such a wonderful listening ear. And my heart is broken.

The shape of my grief is numbness which shifts to anger. It will shift back and forth for a while, I think. But I don’t want her memory to be tainted by my anger.

Just like I don’t want her to be relegated as just some number, some percentage. She was more than that, bigger than that, and to know her was to love her, truly.

I keep thinking that I will write light blog posts, but we are living in the time of a pandemic and I can’t help but wonder who will be left standing at the end.

SO I write what I can and I let the emotions flow, let my grief come, let the anger fill me, let my sadness surround me, and somewhere in all of that, allow her memories to flow through all of that and keep me buoyed.

Death is unfair. Grief is impossible and complicated. But without my friend, the world would have been less of a good place. She brought light to all that she knew and she will be missed and honored.

So listen, county. You don’t get to have her legacy. We do. She was ours first, and we are better for it.

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