Grief, something so abundant, a subject so taboo, why? Because people are scared to talk about the less-pretty side of passing. There is the laying of flowers, hugs from relatives, and dainty tear tracks, then there is the sobbing in the shower, complete numbness, and irrational emotion. You don’t get over a loss.  Anybody who says otherwise either hasn’t experienced a destructive, mind-altering loss or has simply chosen delusion and emotional veiling over honesty. 

Grief is not a topic people enjoy talking about unless it is through aesthetic quotes, because grief is not pretty, and society does not accept the ugly reality of raw emotion. Death is something that is often sugar-coated, displayed through a rose-tinted screen, grief, the designated follower of death, is the same.

The grief of a person, specifically someone who has died, often leads to half-hearted condolence cards and an expectation to be okay within a week. To get over it. To move on. Perhaps you have gifted one of the aforementioned cards, or maybe you have received one, regardless of which, there is no doubt in my mind that you know what cards I am talking about. Those cards are given because people do not want to talk about how incredibly shattering each realisation that slowly seeps in after the death of a loved one is, they would rather pay one pound twenty-nine pence than offer a shoulder to cry on.

 The harsh reality is that you will not be okay within a week, in fact, at every anniversary, or when you have forgotten their voice, the realisation you have lived longer without them than with them, the grief will hit you all over again and you are ruined once more and, they are your ruination. How can a card make up for the day of, or week after the death, when shock fades away and it finally hits you that you will never see them again? How does one get over the feeling that the last conversation with that person simply was not adequate enough to be the last words ever shared? What if, in the last interaction you had with them you dodged that hug goodbye? What if you didn’t say I love you back? How can you ever let go of that? You can not. You do not. No one ever truly sees the warning behind the world-renowned advice to never fall asleep angry, until they wake up to the dreaded call, message, or Facebook post announcing the death of the person they were conflicting with.

I am not here to offer advice on how to cope. I am not here to tell you it gets better. I am not here to share a sob story. Because you do not really cope, it does not particularly get better, and I have no sob stories to share. Only stories of joy, stories of lives lived that I had the privilege to be in and that I have the privilege to share with you. In life one of the only guaranteed joys you have is knowing that you will get to meet people. Sometimes you will meet people who embody love, happiness, and perseverance like I have. The natural consequence of meeting said people is that it is inevitable that you will lose them. What will change your life is the decision to focus on the fact that you got to know them, got experience of knowing them and got to exist at the same time as them. That, to me, is worth all the pain, all the heartache, all the spilt tears. How could it not be worth it? When the odds so fortunately, fell in my favour and allowed me to know such beautiful souls. When you change your mindset from grief being a reminder of love lost, to grief being a reminder of love shared, love we got to feel- your life will be forever altered.

That being said, grief is awful, no sugarcoating, no poetic niceties here, just cold, hard truth. Grief is awful. I hate it. Anyone in their right mind would. I hate having to wonder exactly who I am without them, what they would think of my every move. I hate having to constantly kick my legs frantically, trying to reach the top of the water, mind whirling, throat burning, as the feelings overcome me again. I hate having to grasp the people I love to try to help each other to cope, whilst simultaneously pretending that really, it’s okay, it was life's plan. We all know that is a pathetic attempt to demean the pain and the unfairness of it all. Sometimes death isn’t the right time, or the end of pain, or the kindest conclusion. Death can be twisted, death can be cruel. The Grim Reaper is never too far, and it’s not always fair. 

Grief, I’ve noticed, is often turned into a competition, it shouldn’t be. Your grief is valid whether it was displayed through heaving sobs, or a sigh and thinly pressed lips. That’s something that shouldn’t be considered debatable, the extent of grief felt is something that’s private and immeasurable.

Grief does not have a time limit. Whether it’s on your mind for a day, a week, a month, or more. Whether it’s a constant burden on your mind, or crops up occasionally. Nothing invalidates your feelings. People appear to love the phrase ‘time heals all wounds’ I cannot comprehend why, or how. It does not get better, you just learn to live with it. Because above all, you must live. Not for them of course, that idea is stupid. But if an incentive to live, for you, is knowing that the memory of them lives on with and through you, use that. Take whatever you can from grief, use it to learn, utilise it. Loss isn’t going anywhere, nor is grief, so learn. Learn how to keep moving, do yourself proud and live.