The Second Wave of Grief

Somehow I managed to ride through the shock, the agony, the chaos and emptiness and finally a kind of saying goodbye, and a kind of acceptance, and she fell into a different place in my life. But now, a few months on — after all that work I did — she’s still dead!

The second wave of grief has hit me. I have been through all the so-called stages and then some — only to find myself at the very beginning once more. It’s beyond a joke now, I keep thinking. OK, she died, it was the way it was, I managed to ride through the shock, the agony, the chaos and emptiness and finally a kind of saying goodbye, and a kind of acceptance, and she fell into a different place in my life. But now, a few months on — after all that work I did — she’s still dead!

I don’t know quite what I was expecting, to be able to pick up the phone and tell her how well I had done and compare notes as to how it all was for her? To wake up? To get back to normal after this drama that shook us both for awhile — after all, everything is temporary, isn’t it? Isn’t that the whole point? It felt strangely comforting when I grasped it. But this is something else. This is constant. This thing goes on forever. Time becomes ruthlessly linear. It will take me further and further away from my memories, the things I have taken over from her will finish or get lost or broken. This whole event will run out of steam but she will remain dead and gone.

Who thought up something like this? I have never believed in a God organising the world, but this seems so perverse that someone must have invented it. Irrational anger, irrational thoughts, while all the feelings make sense. A terrible kind of sense. But thoughts can’t deal with this. They start trying to make deals with non-existent gods and inanimate objects. They become extraordinarily creative. They rewind and fast forward with alacrity, sometimes at the same time. They start placing themselves at the centre of the world. I feel as if I am frankly on a completely different planet to other people. Those who have been through “it” too often cry when they see me and repeat that sentence “you have to go through it to understand”. Understand what? I don’t understand a thing. I suppose they mean the intensity of it. How the impossible turns out to be true.

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What can my “therapeutic goal” possibly be, but to survive? Just endure? What can the cure actually be but love? I know the last tasks of mourning are re-organising and coming to some kind of acceptance. But although I am sure that will happen, it also misses the point. It will allow me to make new connections, I know, give me something like a new life, a new strength probably, too. But if I forget this state, then all that organising will have somehow missed the point. The point is completely inexpressible, and extraordinarily painful; it’s about being a human animal, and something else too.

I still hold the conviction that one day I will sit in a cafe on the “other side” (that expression doesn’t seem like a cliche anymore, it feels pretty accurate) and talk over death with my family and friends, their deaths and mine. I have rehearsed too many of the conversations already. How could he have been so stupid? Weren’t they unlucky? What an awful thing to happen! You did really well, no really, you did. That was a scary moment wasn’t it! But here we are now, all safe and together. While I do not really believe this, my mind has to. That’s how it is for me today. Waiting on the beach, for the tide to go out.

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