It’s 6:30pm and I’ve been working since 4:34 this morning. My brain is numb. I’m satisfied that my house is clean (enough), my work is done (enough), the kids are happy (enough). The garden is wild, hasn’t been tended to (enough) and my heart… well. I know the way I’m living right now isn’t enough.
It’s not enough.
I’m dodging full feeling. I’m working my way through and around what this time is for me – it’s a remembrance of those 3 weeks in which my brother Dana lay in his coma after being shot. It’s a remembrance of what I’ve lost. It’s a remembrance of how much it all still hurts.
It feels rude to talk about it now with the whole world hurting in some way or another. The horrific fires in Lahaina, Canada burning. The penguin babies, dead. So much pain is in the air, and it lies heavy with the heat.
I miss my brother and I should get over it already. It’s been enough time, right, we need to snap out of this shit. Calamity after calamity and the hurting and the pain and in a Tik Tok like flick of our finger, our culture is now telling us to tune out, move on. The next thing is here already, so just get over it.
Do we though? Are we all just numbing ourselves one way or another?
What does the refusal to fully feel mean for us?
The pandemic put us all in a time out to think about our actions and change the way we did things. We didn’t learn from it though, did we? I mean, we are all back doing exactly what we did before the pandemic, for the most part. The same corporations rule the world and we’re still running rat races through asinine mazes. Myself included.
Maybe I don’t want to acknowledge that, or to look at my life and know for sure that if I died tomorrow, I’d be unhappy with a lot of my choices. If I died tomorrow, I’d want to know, Why didn’t I paint more? Why didn’t I dance more? Why didn’t I garden every day? Why’d I get so spun out on dumb shit that made me feel bad?
I’ll bet I’m not alone in this. In fact, since I’m a therapist now, I know for a fact I’m not alone in this 🙂
I gardened. Not thinking, just doing. Feeling my body coordinate , sweat pouring off of me and it occurred to me that it was like labor. That all of this grief is labor. That grief – in and of itself – is labor. It’s hard work.
And like having a baby, it’s something that needs to be experienced in order to get to the other side. But then I was wondering what the other side in grief actually is?
And again, I gardened.
I felt the answer come eventually: we’re never “done” with our grief in the same way that a garden is never “done.” There’s always more to do, but with consistent labor, it gets easier and the design becomes more clear, the beauty unfolds and our path is made. It’s never fully completed because life is always evolving. Our grief transforms in a way, becomes integrated into our hearts and lives. But it needs to be felt in order for the strands to be captured and woven into the new tapestry of the life we create.
It hurts to think of the boundless joy and energy my brother Dana had, his zest for life. It hurts to remember that feeling of being loved unconditionally. It hurts to remember our conversations, so full of dreams, plans, ideas and sparkle. It hurts to remember his silly jokes, huge heart and cheesy playlist. It hurts to remember all the rememberings, and it hurts because I miss him.
Feeling that hurt is hard. It’s labor, the labor of grief.
And it is enough.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.