Let’s talk about grief
My very bad joke of the last two weeks has been that, gosh, if I’d known that grief would cure my sleeping problem, I would have tried it ages ago! (Or not.) For weeks, I’d set my alarm, wake up when it went off, put it on snooze, then fall soundly asleep for another hour or two. I just need so much more rest than I’d been giving myself. Now when my alarm goes off, I stare at the ceiling while my body numbs itself again to the pain and grief of the last two weeks.
And now I sit at home with time to focus on school work for the first time in a week, and I feel too numb to focus.
On Monday, Nov. 7, I was keeping my friend supported and taken care of while she pulled through a mental crisis. The possibility of a Trump presidency was starting to feel like it could actually happen, but I couldn’t let myself focus on it, lest I break down in fear.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, I put on my “I Voted” sticker and told myself that love for all will win this day. People in the United States can’t possibly have that much hatred for their fellow humans. Love and unity would win that day.
Later in the day, I got my last phone call telling me that my grandfather was in his final days. I’d thought I’d heard this before, I’d thought he would keep going as he has been for months. I steeled myself, but I hadn’t really expected him to die yet.
On Wednesday, Nov. 9, I woke up in a world I hadn’t thought possible. Anger and hatred had won. We weren’t going backward as a society, we were going backward as humans who care for each other. I somehow made it through school. I texted almost all of my close friends. I told them we would hold each other close. I got ready for having a planning meeting on Friday evening to talk about where we would go from here. I told everyone I could that I am there for them, too.
On Friday, Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day, I woke up and laid in bed for an hour, staring at the ceiling. My phone rang. My mother had had a medical procedure the day before and was still recovering, so my dad gave me the news: my grandfather had passed overnight. Did I still want to go with them to the funeral in the state where my mother’s family lives? Yes, I did. We texted flight plans while I emailed everyone I knew I needed to to say that I was going out of town for the funeral. Professors were supportive. Friends brought me food, hugs, chocolate. One friend I made a key for to take care of my cat while I was gone. Another made sure I got to the airport safely and that my car was fine for the week I’d be away.
I’d had a Sierra Club meeting scheduled on Friday, and there plenty of staff had red eyes from crying. We fumbled through our meeting, changing everything about what we’ll do next. That night I had a planning meeting with friends about how we will hold each other. On Saturday, Nov. 12, I emailed one of the few classmates who I like, a Muslim woman, to tell her that I’m here for her during school. She responded that there have already been incidents of hateful words said in school.
I don’t know how to keep it together.
On Sunday, Nov. 13, I met my parents at an airport and commenced a week of stress, secrets, and lies. We met with an attorney four times to get the ball rolling on closing my grandfather’s estate. I sat with my mom each time, to help her navigate the confusing words that attorneys say. We spent six hours at the viewing of my grandfather. We went to the funeral, and we watched them lower his coffin into the grave next to my grandmother. We dealt with realtors, we never figured out how to navigate disputes over who gets his deer head mounted on the wall. The air outside was fresher than indoors, so I breathed better outside than inside for the first time in years. We learned of a long-kept secret while one of my aunts decided to keep secret from her husband the truth of something that happened that week because he couldn’t handle his own emotions.
It was a long, hard week, and I ignored the results of the election the entire time.
I’m not sure even now how I’m supposed to feel about all of this. I am not sure I can feel for a while yet. I think I need to get through the next two weeks of school. I hope I can hold it together until then. I know I can hold my friends as much as possible while I get through this. I know that my communities care for me no matter what. I know that this will get me through.
We will get through together. That’s a promise.