Candles In The Wind
Patti Smith wrote the other day that grieving is a privilege, and I haven't stopped thinking about it.
For years, I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of these feelings that come with parenthood that are not grief, but some relative of it that's nearly indistinguishable. Like a cousin who looks just like you despite having two entirely different parents; you share grandparents. Ancestry. Lineage. DNA, and you can see it. The overarching feeling of parenthood is love, of course, but love is just an umbrella term for innumerable genres and specific kinds of love that are impossible to articulate. So we just call it all “love.”
Grief has other siblings; they were born sextuplets, at least. Not identical, but like that cousin, too close to call.
I've lost people. My grandma is the most obvious example: she died of lung cancer in her early 60's. I was 13. And most importantly, I loved her. She wasn’t part of my daily life, but she was my grandma; the egg that later became me formed inside my mother's ovary when she was a fetus inside my grandma in 1963. And she died. That kind of grief is textbook - easy to classify and, depending who you are, perhaps wave away with a dismissive hand.
There were family members and friends who have just … gone away. There were my genuinely beloved childhood dog and my cat, who lived 7 and 17 years respectively. Both died by the front door, in the entryways of two different homes, but headed in the same direction: outside. Out. Away.
There's private grief and collective grief. The heart-scorching sensation of watching the planet itself suffer. Mourning the loss of children known and unknown at residential schools; victims of genocide on every piece of land on Earth. Pandemic deaths. Individual lives taken by targeted violence or random tragedy. There's oftentimes a (when social media is involved, deafening) collective suffering that resides alongside one family's quiet loss of a loved one.
There's the grief of enduring an illness of body or mind - one's own or a loved one’s. The loss of physical or mental ability.
And on, and on.
People are competitive about grief and I don't want to think about that. I'm more curious to put impossible-to-explain feelings into words. That's why I write songs. That's why I write stories. Feelings that can't be explained in a few words can be expressed using many words - hundreds of words; thousands. Feelings can be explained in notes and frequencies; scents and colours.
If grief is a privilege, then grieving someone or something that isn't yet lost is the ultimate privilege. That's where I am now, and where I'm headed next.
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Totally get this. There are many different types of Grief it is multifaceted.