I am grief


By Marianne Delorey

I am grief. I am ugliness borne out of love and loss. I am powerful. I can bring the strongest among you to your knees. I am immune to your bargaining; I am merciless. I will take the babe in arms as quickly as I will take a lonely miser.  I will not be denied.

I cannot be controlled. I am building and raging and bubbling inside and I am seeping and lashing and ranting outside. Sometimes, I masquerade as anger so you can strike out at unsuspecting well-wishers. I am unreasonable and will ooze out of you at the most inopportune times. You may think you have me mastered, but I will crush you when you least expect it. You will find me lurking in the smallest and most inconsequential details. On bright mornings you will see me in the color of your coffee when you add cream instead of milk. You will hear me in the song that comes on the radio in the grocery store. I will waft into your skull via the aroma of baked beans or bread. In those moments, I will overwhelm you again and again.

I am shapeless, cloudlike and ethereal, and so I easily surround you, envelope you, smother you and suffocate you. You will breathe me in and I will take your breath away.

My children are the lump in your throat, the knot in your stomach, the stricken face you see in your friends’ eyes. I feed off awkward pauses and uncomfortable silences. I devour trite condolences, “At least his suffering has ended.” And, “She is in a better place.” I especially love, “She lived a long life,” because it allows a more intense loss and a stronger grief.

I am particularly adept at turning you around so you can’t trust your own head. You will easily understand bouncing from pain to sorrow to regret and even anger. But then you will feel relief, and even moments of joy. I will gladly pair these feelings with extreme guilt and mix in a dose of confusion. And so I will stay front and center in your every thought.

My favorite holiday is the first day people forget to ask you about me. The day they assume I am weakening is the day I have the most strength. Years later, you will think back on this one day. It wills stick out in your mind as the day you realized how alone you actually were in the world. This is especially true if you think you are not.

I have claimed my share of lives. I am heartbreak. I am loss, pain, and anguish. The lucky ones might graduate to denial or numbness, but for most, I will never leave your side. My initial punch packs a wallop, but like a piñata, it is the steady beating that splits you apart.

People think time is my enemy, but I am more powerful than time. While you live, I live. I will remind you with each passing day what you lost, but I will also remind you that once you had love. And where you have love, you have truly lived.

Marianne Delorey, Ph.D., is the executive director of Colony Retirement Homes. She can be reached at 508-755-0444 or mdelorey@colonyretirement.com and www.colonyretirementhomes.com.