Updated: Apr 4, 2021
Photo by: Linsday Goff
Grief is like a new neighbor. She just moved in and, at first, I saw her all the time.
Moving boxes into her new place, her belongings as rearranged as all my emotions, all my feelings that had shifted to the forefront of my being. I had no way of knowing how long she’d remain in this dwelling but, instinctively, I prepared myself for her to become a permanent fixture in my world.
As time went on, I saw my neighbor, Grief, a little less each day but was still very much aware of her presence. Just as conscious of her being there when she’s loud and disruptive as when she’s calm and peaceful, glancing at her through the window in a dimly lit room while she’s reading or cooking. Her presence isn’t always demanding, but it is certainly profound.
As time goes on, I get to know her better and learn how to cope with what she expects of me. An exchange we have while we cross paths out in our front yards may manifest itself in the form of an intense and cathartic cry, or as something simple and beautiful as a silent gaze. Sometimes we talk for hours, and sometimes it’s just a glance: brief and indifferent. But no matter the exchange, it is not without effort.
I wish I could go back to a time where I didn’t know this neighbor because sometimes, without saying or doing a thing, she makes me feel like dying. Her sheer existence, just knowing she is near, always home, can oftentimes make me feel like I’m suffocating. She can make me feel guilty. Worthless. Undeserving of love, joy, any sort of happiness. But through all of this, I can find comfort in my neighbor. I can’t help but love this neighbor. She is oftentimes messy and never straightforward, but she is pure. Pure love. She moved in out of love. Maybe her purpose is to be here because I have all this extra love and hope to give. I have to be gracious with my new neighbor because she moved in out of necessity. And perhaps, without even knowing it, she moved in because I needed her. Perhaps she is here to remind me of something special every day when I don’t have the strength to carry on.
Neighbors are rarely people you’d call friends or people you’d seek out, but they are always there. A constant. And when I move on out of my house, leaving for another neighborhood, filling my days with new hopes and dreams, this neighbor will still be here. She’ll just be living at a different address—not on the same street, not as easily seen through glass windows or noticed when tending to the delicate and blossoming flowers in her garden—but still living and breathing, all the same.
*My husband and I lost our first baby, Mia, to stillbirth on July 15, 2020, when I was 23 weeks pregnant. This post is in loving memory of her.*
Thank you @lulurizzo for submitting this post. Shared with permission.
Surviving the Unimaginable is a guide to surviving loss, told through the voices of loss parents with the help of a clinical psychologist.
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