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Grief. Let’s talk about it.

grief/ɡrēf, noun.

deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.

We’ve all felt it at some point in our lives. It’s a regular human emotion that eventually we will all encounter. There are studies on it – the five stages, the normal life cycle of sorrow. I think people even have a tendency to anticipate it, as if expecting it to come is going to make it any easier to bear.

But. Is that ever untrue. When grief comes, no matter how you’ve tried to prepare yourself for it, it comes in swinging. It lands punches. It leaves the best of us winded.

I think we’re all a bit winded right now. No matter where you look there are people suffering big, deep, crushing grief. All over the world. Especially right now.

I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, when the grief I was witnessing was different. People I love have experienced loss recently, and that has been deep and painful, but for the most part I knew what to do. I have experienced that kind of grief before and I could show up in a way that made sense.

In the last couple of weeks – in the last couple of days – everything has changed (and at the same time, nothing has.)

The grief we are feeling now is not the kind I know what to do with. I don’t know what to do. So many communities have been grieving recently. Some I’m part of, others I’m not, and the causes of grief are different but are all real, painful, ground-shaking.

One of my most vivid memories from high school was sitting in the same room as a girl who was crying because she missed her dad so much. He had died the summer before, suddenly and tragically. I had known both of them for a long time and I loved them deeply, and I didn’t get up and comfort her. I pretended I didn’t hear and it is one of my biggest regrets. I think about it often. I hope she doesn’t remember.

It’s been a long time since I was that scared teenager in the student council office and I hope I’ve grown since then, but I don’t feel any more equipped to carry the grief of communities I love.

When I think about my friend’s death a couple of years after high school, I think about sitting on a bus on the day of her funeral, sobbing in the arms of a Brazilian colleague whose name I have long forgotten. He, and my other teammates, jumped in to give me the night off during a week where I was supposed to be working 24/7. They knew I needed rest and did everything in their power to find it for me.

I want to be the person to share the burden of grief with people and communities who want it. I don’t know how to do that right now, and I don’t know enough to say anything about current events, but I am doing what I can to learn and stay informed and contribute what I’m able. I am doing my best, but it doesn’t feel like enough when I look at the weight of what the world is carrying right now.

I had something nice to conclude with, but it doesn’t feel right anymore. There’s nothing nice to say. Things are so very heavy and I’m just trying to stand up under the little bit of weight I’m bearing. I know my burden is minimal compared to so many people around the world. I am grieving with you. I hope there’s rest somewhere. That’s a big dream – there might not be. And if there isn’t, I hope I can continue to follow in the footsteps of the people who have been tirelessly pushing through.

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