A couple of years’ thoughts behind every thought here.
I want to discuss Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s Epistle to Neruda with my mother. We’d cheerfully dissect it together and she would tell me lots about the background of those two poets and how that poem came to be. But the bloody woman seems to be taking this whole death thing seriously, so that discussion will never happen.
Isn’t it utterly shitty when people die in the middle of about a thousand conversations you were having with them at the time? Isn’t that the heaviest loss too? All those times (so many times) when you open your mouth or reach for the phone, because something happened and your first, fast, subconscious instinct was to say hey guess what? Grief stabs you right in the heart again and again and again. Then a song gets released or a book is published, that you know they’d have wanted, bought, loved … you can’t enjoy those things yet yourself, not until enough time has passed to make those reminders touching instead of suckerpunching. It’s all too obscene at first.
We don’t call him the grim reaper for nothing.
If anyone is ever foolish enough to ask for my advice about loss and grief, there will be no duck billed platitudes. I’d say weep. Weep as much as you like and don’t ever let anyone tell you to stop. If anyone says get over it, smack them about the head a bit with a fish. I’d tell them that there isn’t a formulaic time frame and that they should just let it run its course, while doing their best to function. I’d say weep more, howl, rail against the universe, let your pain out into the world or it will fester in your heart. Even the uptight Victorians had better rites for grief than we do.
It’s a personal choice only, but I don’t say passed or deceased or late, I say dead. I need the brutality of the truth in my face, otherwise I get lost in trying to make it all lyrical somehow. I’m doing it right now. Dead, gone, lost and a gaping wound to prove it. I’ve lost enough people to know that time does not heal. What it does do, is gradually allow the memories to soften, so that you can put your pain somewhere safe, so that it stops dominating your entire world.
Whatever you or I think about it, perhaps death is the only absolute we have.