Grief has taken center stage over the last month. Grief decided that it would now take the leading role in my life; that its show would run an extra month, with encores as the norm. It’s not that grief hadn’t been a part of my life prior to the last month. It’s that this time, it took up more space, made itself at home, and decided it was comfortable staying for a longer period of time.
Grief has manifested in a myriad of ways over the past month.
Grief has looked like exhaustion, where getting out of bed in the morning is the hardest task of the day.
Grief has looked like a lack of focus. Being sidetracked at every turn.
Grief has looked like attitude. Being irritable and impatient at all the small things.
Grief has looked like isolation. A lack of excitement of being around people, which is not normal for an extrovert like me.
Grief has looked like loneliness. Knowing the people who, unfortunately, “get it” because they’ve lost a parent, have their own grief to carry.
Grief has looked like tears.
Grief has looked like anger.
Grief has looked like sadness.
Grief has looked like frustration.
Grief has looked like jealousy.
Grief has looked messy.
Initially, I couldn’t figure out why grief was more prominent recently. There hadn’t been anything that triggered these intense emotions. Then I realized that it’s because we are in the midst of the holiday season. Thanksgiving had mostly been spent with my daddy’s side of the family growing up. It was the norm to spend the holidays with him and his siblings. This year was only the second Thanksgiving without my daddy and I’ve been sad about it.
I’ve been sad that my daddy isn’t here to celebrate the holidays with us. That we’ll never enjoy his macaroni and cheese, green beans, chili, cheese and eggs, or cube steak again. I’m sad that I’ll never hear him singing along to Celine Dion’s Christmas album, which was his favorite. I’m sad that I won’t get to watch him slowly open every Christmas gift he received and be genuinely grateful for all of them. I’m just sad.
I’ve tried to will myself into being happy for the sake of those around me. To be happy for my family, friends, and colleagues, but I don’t have the emotional energy. I had a friend reach out to ask how I was doing. It’s been 3 days and I haven’t responded. Not because I’m being rude or don’t want to, but I haven’t responded because I feel bad that I’m not doing well and that’s hard to express because most people expect and are used to happy Mika.
I feel bad that my response won’t be uplifting and hopeful.
I feel bad that I’m in a hard season.
I feel bad that I feel defeated by grief.
I feel bad that I don’t have anything to give to those around me because I can barely give anything to myself.
I just feel bad.
And yet, I’ve continued to show up over the past month. I’ve continued to show up to my job, for my friends and family, giving of myself emotionally and mentally. And I’m tired. And grief sucks. And I’m sad.
There’s no pretty bow at the end of this. No way to wrap it up and leave you all feeling hopeful and affirmed. Instead, I’ll say that if you have family or friends who have lost someone that is important to them (no matter how long ago it was or how recent), reach out and tell them you’re thinking of them. Let them know that you’re willing to listen about their loved one (only if you mean it). Send them a text and tell them you don’t know what to say but wanted to reach out anyway. Do anything except give them radio silence, because grief can be extra complicated around the holidays.