Grief, Healing, and Time 

Today someone I loved died. I can’t believe it. I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it. Family comes. Friends come. The phone keeps ringing. The doorbell rings again and again. The ringing seems far away. I hear it but I seem unable to answer. My legs won’t move. My feet won’t move. I am glued to the chair. Others answer for me. They seem to know I don’t remember how.

Tomorrow comes. I didn’t want it to ever come. I wanted to go back to the time before you died. There, I said it. You died. Does that make it true? There must be some mistake, I tell myself. Maybe this is just a bad dream I need to wake up from. If only someone would wake me up. When people ask me what they can do for me, I try to tell them the only thing I want is you. They look sad, they gently shake their head, they hug me, and still, you’re not here.

Your funeral is over. Everyone says I did so well. I hardly cried. Don’t they see I can’t cry, not yet? I am in shock.

I hear someone else say, “Give her time, that’s all she needs.” I wonder: Can it really be that simple? If it is, I just want to run through time, however much it takes to get to the place where I don’t hurt so bad, don’t miss you so much. But no, I can’t do that. Even if I could, I would only be farther from you. My heart cannot bear that.

Days pass. Tomorrow will be one month since you died.

I wonder how I can just skip that day. I am afraid of it; of reliving every single detail of your death, knowing that one month ago you were here with me and my world was okay. Now I have no world. Everyone keeps telling me I just need to make a new world. But I liked my old one. I never asked to have it taken from me. Even if I wanted to, I don’t know how to start over. I don’t know where the beginning of that world is or how to get there. Everything is so hard and makes me so tired. I just want to stay in bed.

Days pass and turn into weeks. I am stuck in a world foreign to me, wondering where it is that you are and how you could have left me.

I force myself to go through the motions of living and caring for others. They don’t seem to notice it’s just pretend and I am starring in the hardest role of my life. If only they had just an inkling of the place that I am in, of my fractured and broken heart.

I never used to read the obituaries. Now I feel compelled to do so. I feel like a kindred spirit to others who must also travel the road I am on. I still feel so alone. Now they will feel alone, too. I feel like I should say something to them, but I do not know them; I only know their pain.

Months continue to pass. I am back at work, back in church, getting my hair done. It all still seems strange, different, and doesn’t matter like it used to. Friends call. Sometimes I say, “Yes, I will go to dinner.” Other times I say, “Thanks for calling, but not today.” Many days it is still easier to just be alone where I don’t have to hide my tears when they come, where I can talk to you and not feel strange, where I can just be however I am that day and not try to fit into the place others have carved out for me.

Finally, one day I surprise myself. I am humming a tune. For a little while, I feel lighter. I almost smile. I begin to judge myself. What’s the matter with me? How can I be even a little happy when you’re not here? But then I hear your voice in my head—or is it my heart, the place where you live—saying you are glad that I am humming, glad I can smile, encouraging me to live again. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I do both. But later that day I find myself humming again, and I smile and I know that I am going to be okay.




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