Maybe it’s the approach of El Dia de los Muertos or sorting old photos; something has pulled my grief from the back burner where it’s been simmering, waiting for its moment. It comes with questions: Am I past the acceptable time? When is it time to grieve? When is it time to stop? Have I not done enough?
I envy the cultures in which mourners get to wail and bellow their grief to the world as they sit in the church, walk the casket down the street and then watch it lowered into the ground. But this brings up another burning question: in the cultures that include caterwauling in the process is grief finite? Does the survivor grieve and then go on? I know there isn’t an end to the loss, but is there a quicker healing of the wound? I wish I knew someone to ask. Maybe there’s been a study.
I find grief to be a bit exponential as I go through life. When my sister died I missed my father. When my grandniece died I remembered a friend who died in grade school. Always, it seems to be unfinished grief: grief that is pushed aside to make room for going back to work; sorrow that is buried in the mountains of paperwork sitting on my desk; an aching heart that must be set aside to go to a friend’s wedding. It becomes a compound formula made up of the bits and pieces of pain that I have accumulated without letting any go.
And so occasionally I cry inappropriately. I sob when the neighborhood bunny goes missing. I have tears in my eyes when the ambulance goes by without knowing who’s inside. I’m the walking wounded without a limp.
I am considering the tradition of wearing black. Oh, not for any set time; and I wouldn’t want it to just be a little black dress. If there were a national uniform for the days I am succumbing to grief, then everyone could recognize the times when they should be sympathetic, empathetic or slip quickly around the corner when they see me coming.
For now, I think I’ll watch sad movies for a week. Maybe I’ll see Shadowlands over and over. Then I won’t have to cry the next time the Greyhound bus leaves the station with my parcel.