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Alchemy

For a long time, your vantage point is limited. The cognitive fog, the weight of your tears, the altered light of your future all inhibit comprehension and understanding of the shape life will take without your loved one. Do not try to figure anything out now. You don’t have too.

As grief is all consuming, you need only experience your sadness.

At some point, you might imagine the weeping period has abated. You think it is time to attempt something normal, maybe grocery shopping. Yet, as the cashier explains why tomatoes are so expensive, you are terrified to realize she might be speaking Sanskrit for all you can comprehend. Your inability to participate in “normal” life startles you. You try to stop it, the cascade of emotion this understanding brings, but you can’t. There you are, staring at the alarmed face of the cashier, blinded by new tears. 

You marvel anytime grief is not all consuming. This doesn’t happen in the beginning, but as time goes on, there will be whole minutes where you are normal. Normal surprises you, but then, just as quickly, the realization acts like a magnet for grief and it returns in force, as if to make up for its brief absence.

This is because, in the beginning, any minute not in deep mourning is often experienced as a betrayal of your loved one. How can you feel anything approximating ‘ordinary’ when they no longer walk the earth? When life as you know it is over and here you stand in a strange new world? Your tears reunite you with the loss of your loved one and grief rushes back to overwhelm any feeling of normal. You are not ready for it. You are unsure you will ever be ready for it.

Still, grief continues working its alchemy.

You might be taking on an innocuous task, like sorting the pile of mail that awaits you. Bills and advertisements are mixed in with condolence cards. You dig in, going through the pile, but suddenly find yourself staring in dumbfounded wonder at the trite image on a sympathy card: the sun streaming through clouds over the ocean. Tears suddenly fill your eyes. You cannot understand how anything can be so beautiful.

Love, you see, has busted your heart wide open.