Finding Grief

by Jen MacCulloch

I’ve spent fifteen years trying to numb the hurt and push down the pain. I’ve tried to drown the darkness in wine and whiskey. Stuffed in food to squash and silence the sorrow. Run marathons hoping to outrun the demons.

For fifteen years I have failed.

Finally, I have given into the grief. For the past six days I have cocooned myself in my comforter and cried the deepest, darkest, ugliest tears. When my mother killed herself fifteen years ago I didn’t shed a single tear. It was as if the shock froze the tears. Six days ago the tears thawed and spilled out like Niagara. 

These past few days I cannot recall leaving my bed cocoon and yet I know I must have sought water, food, bathroom. Today is the first day that I am conscious of being, of breathing and of needing sunlight, sustenance and cleansing.

My eyes, nose, throat and lungs ache from crying and my body is weak and waned like a wooden chair left too long in the rain. Despite these physical protests, my heart and head feel lighter and freer than they have since my mother’s death. It occurs to me that all the years I’d been eschewing the pain I should have been embracing it, eyeballing it. All these years I’d been hiding had only made the grief keep on seeking. Now I was the seeker and I had found grief, called him out and won the game.

I stand under the shower which is surely my first in six days. I feel every hot droplet. I feel the suds singe my eyes. I feel my toes grip the tiles. I am aware of every hair that the pink plastic razor severs. I feel everything. It is overwhelming and a relief at once.

I wrap a scratchy towel around my middle and peer into the foggy mirror. For the first time in forever I see me and I stare at me. I smile. The first sincere, guiltless, unrehearsed smile since her death.
I have finally grieved for my mother. Let her go. Forgiven her. Released my guilt. Understood her. Known her. Laid her to rest. My days of trying to drown, stuff and outrun my grief are over. I will never spend another day that way.

I am free.

this story appears in Grieve Volume 4 - click to purchase the anthology

a couple of years ago