loss, and other notes on grief

Loss is something that has shaped a lot of my life. Grief, on the same hand, has defined a lot of my writing, creating, and being for the last year. I've always been fascinated by the concept of grief - how it manifests differently for different people, the way it morphs and changes as time passes. Hell, my whole senior thesis was almost centered around it until I realized how naive it was of me to think I had any interesting or valuable perspective on it. It's impossible to understand while simultaneously being the most sharable human experience.


For the better part of my adult life, I've considered myself to be somewhat of a professional loss handler - can confirm that doesn't fit well on a resume. I love nothing more than a good plan, and the whole "7-stages of grief" propaganda is a top notch one if you just push through and ignore how absolutely inaccurate it is. The feelings mentioned in that very Americanized version of grief are accurate, for sure. However, the idea that they happen, as soon as a loss occurs, in a predetermined order and then are over just isn't true. They never quite wrap up so nice and neat with a bow. Truly, they never quite seem to go away at all, they come and go as they please for, well, forever.


A lot of my recent adult life has been plagued by two things: 1. loss, a lot of it and 2. wanting to be a better version of, and understand more wholly, myself. If you happen to be in the market for a rough, but rewarding 'kill two birds with one stone' moment I highly recommended the combo. The most valuable thing I've learned through this process is the concept of controlling loss, something I had no idea was engrained into me until a therapy session about a month ago. If you've met me, you might know that I can tend to have some control issues (cite paragraph 2, sentence 2 of this piece). Which can be super helpful when planning a trip or trying to ace a group project and super unhelpful in almost any other situation.


Gaining an understanding of why my brain loves the things it does, even when they're the least practical answer to life has been incredibly exhausting but extremely worthwhile. My brain's solution to having gone through losses, of all shapes and sizes, from the age of three unwaveringly consistently until now is to try and protect me from those really shitty feelings of grief however it can. Logically but not fortunately, it chose to always gravitate towards controlling any loss that it can. Death is something unavoidable and uncontrollable, the worst - but not always the most painful - form of loss. Breakups, friendships ending, moving, changing, are all little moments of loss that my brain latches on to and says "hey, all the emotions of grief really suck, so let's avoid that for as long as possible and just hold onto the person/place/thing we're inevitably going to lose." Charming, isn't it?


Learning this about myself paralyzed me emotionally for good minute. I felt an overwhelming amount of understanding for so many of the choices I've made in my life, followed by an intense frustration towards myself for the fact that I do this, all brought together by gratefulness because now that I know, I can correct when moving forward. I was also amazed, as I've been countless times, at how impactful grief and loss are. Sure, it feels big and important in the initial moments of loss but to realize how subconsciously it can alter the way we are and how we function blew me a way. I get lost thinking about it almost daily - hence me writing, and you reading this right now.


I don't think I'll ever stop being fascinated by the way grief works and I know I won't ever stop experiencing losses, of all kinds. I feel like a little kid wandering through a gigantic museum of knowledge, each room I'm learning more about myself, my experiences in life, our society and how all of those things intersect and interact. If I ever gain enough understanding, my lost senior thesis piece might actually exist someday - naivety pending.



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