There are books aplenty about grief and loss and how to process. Essays upon essays that muse on feelings and actions and how to navigate the waves. How to learn to surf and not drown in them when someone you love is gone.
Beautiful prose and poetry is written about the pain and hurt and eventual sunrise at the end of it all when you accept it and see the truth that the days do indeed keep coming.
But no one talks about the messy parts. The gallows humour parts. The parts when you just have to laugh and cry at the ridiculousness that is real life in the middle of the disaster of loving the dead while you exist in the midst of the living.
No one talks about the moments that make you cringe while you’re shaking your head and thinking “why didn’t anyone tell me about THIS!’”
No one talks about how you will do your grocery shopping at 11:30pm, just before the store closes, so that you can avoid having to come face to face with all the people who know.
No one tells you how to answer the casual question of “what’s he doing after grad?” from someone who hasn’t heard that he died 6 months ago. No one tells you that you will simply lie, saying “ he’s doing great” to avoid having to explain it – again.
No one tells you how much you will come to hate seeing people who don’t know. Even more than you may come to hate seeing people who do.
No one tells you how to cancel plans, made three days before your person died. No one tells you that you will leave a movie theatre 10 minutes into the movie to send a text to the friend you forgot you made plans with for that evening. Plans made three days ago. Before. No one tells you that you’ll stand there in the lobby, holding your phone and trying to figure out how to say that you can’t make it to dinner because your son is dead and you’re watching a mindless movie with your other kids trying to do anything that makes your mind stop screaming. No one tells you that you will ever send a text saying “I can’t make dinner because my son died.” No one tells you that you will not care how rude that sounds.
No one tells you that you will laugh out loud when you ask your other kids what they want to do that evening, two days later, to try to pass the time and one of them says “I don’t know, just hang around? Oh, sorry, bad wording.”. No one tells you that you will laugh because the reality of his bad wording speaks to a reality that is simply unbelievable and surreal.
No one tells you that you will start to wonder if you have lost your mind.
No one tells you that you will be so angry at the funeral when someone asks why you are letting his friends see him – in an open casket – because, “don’t you know it might upset them?” Them. No one tells you that you will be alright with the fact that you don’t care who is upset.
No one tells you that you will look back a month later and have no idea how you’re younger child got fed and taken to school and cared for when you can’t remember doing any of it.
No one tells you that you will drive yourself to the morgue in city rush hour and home again and be surprised when someone asks you how you managed it – and why didn’t you ask someone to drive you! It won’t occur to you that you shouldn’t have been able to do something as normal as driving because you did it. And you don’t remember even getting in the car.
No one tells you about how hilarious you find it when you buckle the seatbelt around the container holding your son’s ashes in the passenger seat after it goes flying onto the floorboards when you take a hard turn out of the crematorium’s parking lot.
No one tells you how sad you will be on the day when, years later, you take out his shirt that you kept because it smelled like him – and it doesn’t smell like him anymore.
No one tells you.