Writing about grief is hard because grief is never singular. It comes as a flood, a single mass that breaks and flows filling up spaces. Yet the mass is made up of a hundred million parts that all must be managed. It is also not singular in that rarely is only one person affected.
My Grandma died on Monday. The fact of her death is an impact crater with those closest most affected, first my Father, then my mother, Grandma’s brothers and sisters, me and my siblings, then further out to my children and their cousins. So many people with so many raw feelings. My head is full of thoughts, yet my writing of them is constrained by the need to not add hurt. When feelings are all on the surface it is best to tread lightly.
Death brings with it a list of chores a mile long. My parents are having to dismantle the care systems that they had in place for Grandma. All of us are scrambling and rearranging our schedules so we can gather for a funeral. There is legal paperwork, flowers, an obituary, rides from the airport, housing for extended family, and a program to plan. Decision after decision is to be made, all while rational functions are impaired by grief. I don’t know a way to do it better, all of it feels necessary. And there is some comfort in the list of chores. They provide a focus, a way to move forward and rearrange life without Grandma in it. Though I worry about the space after, when chores are complete and all that is left is an absence.
I’ll admit that I dove into the chores. I tried to involve myself and make myself useful. I’d hoped to alleviate burden by managing some communications for my parents. But it is possible that my attempts only increased the number of phone calls and confusion. I know I wore out by the end of today. I have my itinerary. I know when I leave, where to pick up my rental car, and the hotel where I will stay. Tomorrow I have to dive into work and prepare things so that Howard will be able to manage school and work while I am gone.
I have crying to do. I haven’t done most of it yet. I’ve been too busy arranging things. But there is space for it this weekend. I will go be in that space and see what feelings join me there.
For now I reread Grandma on her 90th Birthday which I wrote five years ago.