Grief can hit us in many ways
I’ve always connected grief with the idea of death. You grieve over someone’s untimely death. Be that a parent, a spouse, Gran, Granddad or friend. It happens and it hits us with such ferociousness that we’re often blown into next week. People handle grief in several different ways, though. Never assume someone isn’t grieving because they grieve in their own way. Me? I have some sort of weird detachment phobia to death. My Gran died in 2003, one autumn day in the early hours of the morning. Yet I still don’t accept in my mind that she’s gone. I still feel her presence and believe she’s sitting there shouting at my Granddad, telling him to quit being so Racist at the news. Granddad’s favourite saying would be, “Bloody Africans. We need to round them all up and shoot them”, but alas, he comes from a different time where the powers that be shaped his mind in an entirely different way to mine.
It never struck me that I can grieve over more than Death until much later in life. I realised that I could grieve over a broken measuring ruler if it held a significant enough part in my life. Perhaps it had sentimental value, or it always came in handy in times of need. Whatever the case grieving takes on many, many shapes and forms. The most common one is the grieving of an ex-lover. Some people never really shed their grief; never learn to properly heal and wallow through life angry or depressed.
I remember the first time I ever experienced raw, emotional grief to the core. It was the time I moved from England back to Scotland in 2002. I was unwell. Really unwell. I had been a naughty boy. My self-medicating with alcohol had become too much for me and I ended up in the hospital. Stranded and unable to cope I had to leave everything and go back up to Scotland to be with my family. They were supportive and that’s what I needed. It was either that or live with my Dad. He was the least supportive person I’ve ever known. A man that was entirely self-interested. I am sure he had some form of undiagnosed autism. But. That’s another story.
I can remember the day I was clearing out my flat. I had a young man living with me. Daniel his name was. I can’t remember his last name. He was incredibly bullied at school by lots of young lads. I really felt sorry for this boy, so I took him in. Under my protection. Under my wing. I remember I had lots and lots of clothes to go in my suitcase. I wouldn’t be able to carry all of this away. I remember giving half of my wardrobe to him. We were of similar size and taste. I remember the gut wrenching feeling of slowly disassociating myself with everything I had created for three years. I was throwing it all away. Giving it up. I had worked hard to create a network of friendships and *poof*. All gone in one mad week of drunkenness. I don’t fully blame myself, though. I had troubles. Big troubles. Alcohol was a way that I dealt with those.
I remember the lonely bus journey back up to Scotland. How it felt. Cold, uncompassionate and uncaring. No-one to see me off. No-one to give me a hug and a kiss bye. Just off I went. I remember looking back at what I had created; yet in one foul swoop, I had destroyed it all. The grief was settling in. I had killed my life in England. It was dead. No more. I remember the prospect of beginning a new one in Scotland. I had friends, or at least I thought I had. Not like in England though. In England, I could phone Ben to see if he wanted a beer session and he’d be around in five minutes flat. Or Steve. I had killed that. It was no more. The depression slowly seeped into my veins.
It wasn’t long before I was back in the hospital again. I just couldn’t handle the pressure. I had gone from being a popular socialite where more than fifty people knew me and would more than likely stop and chat to me for a few minutes on a Friday night. To sitting, alone, in my house watching re-runs of the Shawshank Redemption and not seeing anyone for days. My Mother worked. My friends were at uni and I was in-between jobs. Is it me, or is that a lot to handle? It feels really depressing writing this.
It took me at least a good six years to finally uproot myself out of my depressive state. I had it bad, for years. But I finally kicked it. Giving up alcohol was the catalyst for me. Ever since I gave up alcohol I went from strength to strength and every month a little bit of depression fell off me like dead skin. It eventually ended. But that’s not to say I’m not prone to depression. Everyone will be at one stage in their life. It’s more common than you think. Only, some of us get stuck in a hole and can’t get out. That was me. I had no-one to extend a hand and pull me out of the hole I was in. Until 2006. When I went to a small charity in Beccles. That was the beginning of life for me.
Grief comes in many forms. It stems from a loss. But it’s not always as significant as death. It could be a friend moving out of the area, or a change in habit, or a change to the rules that you’ve followed for a long time. Look at the anti-PC crowd. They are going through the stages of grief right now. Anger is where they are stuck at. A long way to go until acceptance. If at all!
So the next time you see someone “crying over spilt milk” it may not seem so trivial to you, but it actually may be completely devastating to them. Relevance is the key in all aspects of life.
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