This is what living with grief is like: Worse and worse everyday. I heard a lot of people say that time heals all wounds. They must have never lost a sibling, because even though it’s been two long months since my sister passed away, it feels like it was today. The days that pass don’t make me feel better, they make me feel further: Further from my sister, further from my other siblings, further from the life I once knew and the dreams I once had, further from days without tears, further away from my kids, further from who I was before my sister Simone died. This is it.
This is what it means to grieve so heavily, to want any small bit of relief even if for five seconds, to be battling yourself on every hand while screaming on the inside to keep it together, to be misunderstood and ostracized at such a crucial time because emotions are so heavy and pain is unhealed. So, this is what life without my oldest sister is like.
Our culture has the most terrible views on grief that it is downright shameful. People try to console you in your grief with words and hugs but in reality, all it feels like is someone telling you that you have a problem, your grief is a problem, and it needs to be fixed. Grief is the weirdest, stupidest, ugliest, most awful experience ever. I want my oldest sister back so badly. She was the one I knew would be there for me no matter what. She was the one I could trust to be honest with me. She was the neutral sibling. And now she’s gone and I feel like I have nobody that understands me. It’s the worst feeling in the world. Simone knew me, she saw me, understood me, and she loved me. And now she’s gone, and most days I want to be gone with her.
This is it. This is grief: Having faith in God and His master plan, but being angry that it means your sister has to die at 42. This is grief: feeling like you want to give up but not really wanting to give up, but struggling to do anything at all even get dressed every day. This is it: walking down the street crying and screaming at the top of your lungs hoping the anger and devastation pours out from you like your wailing, only to discover that when your voice is gone and your tears are dried the pain, anger, and devastation linger with a vengeance.
So this is it! This life I had planned, the dinners that would now include my kids and Simone’s son, my nephew, won’t happen on this earth. The sister that went out of her way to make sure I knew that she wasn’t participating in some of the foolishness and demonizing like others were, won’t call me or text me or send me a message on Facebook ever again. The beautiful and smart and funny little black boy that she gave birth to won’t feel his mom wrap her arms around him or hear her read him another book. It means there will be more days where the pain stops me dead in my tracks and all I can do is cry. I can’t move I can barely breathe, I can only cry.
But it also means that I have to allow myself grace in a way I never experienced before but will be sorely necessary. I have to learn that everything I’ve been programmed to believe about loss and grief is flawed and unhelpful. It means I now have something else to add to my story, to help someone else. It now means I have another testimony of how my sister Simone fought so hard to overcome her struggles. She fought hard to re-learn everything after her stroke. And it means I have to get my prayer life back strong. My sister Simone said that after her stroke she forgot how to tie her shoes, how to brush her teeth, how to speak, how to use silverware, and more, but she never forgot how to pray. Her strength inspires, her love radiated and lingers, her smile is missed, her laugh is longed for, and her spirit has passed on from us.
I will see my sister again. We will eat together again and laugh together again. We will sing together and dance together again. That I know and that I believe. But for now, this is it. There is no fixing grief, healing grief, escaping grief, passing through grief. There is only living with it. There is only living with a new life; one you didn’t want, one you still don’t want, but one you are now forced to live with. There is only living with grief. And, this is it.