19 years ago I lost a parent. I was 7 so I did not really understand what was going on. I knew what death was and knew it meant I would never see my father again but I did not understand what it really meant. It took a while for it to sink into my immature mind that there was a gap that I would feel for a long time without me knowing what it was, why it was or how I would fill it. Over the years I recognised the gap and felt it. It was the why that I did not know and it would be a long time before I understood it.
It wasn’t until late last year when I decided to deal with this gap I felt by compiling poetry I have written over the years into one body of work, in celebration of my father did I realise. This gap, this thing I have carried with me almost all my life and never knew what it what to call it was GRIEF. The Rivers We Cry was a way of annunciating all the emotions I could not say or make tangible over the years. It was a letter to him asking why him, why then and why me.
For years, I did not know what grief was. Grief, like a lot of emotions, is not a one size fits all kind of thing. We grieve differently and we go through a whole lot of other emotions while trying to deal with it. For me, even recognising what it was took me years. I had been carrying such deep sadness for years that made me a sad person. Not that I wouldn’t laugh when others did or have a great time, It was the alone times that got to me. In those times it would be me and my thoughts. Most times I would wonder back to that day. It was stuck on replay in my head.
Grief made me lonely, even when people were around, those thoughts always found a way to sneak in. That was the hard part. I lived with it for so long that I didn’t even know it. It felt normal after all, it’s all I had known. Even when some friends mentioned it I could not see it. Something had to happen to get me out of this rut that I didn’t even know I was in. That blessing came in the form of lockdown. I am not an outgoing person but the somberness of the whole lockdown situation, people getting sick and dying, really forced me to reevaluate my life. It forced me to soul search and really get to the bottom of this issue.
It was only after putting the book together, reading it and me putting it out to the world did it hit me. This was exactly what I needed, without even knowing it I had finally come to the end of the GRIEF’s era in my life ( well, regarding this issue anyway). I felt lighter. The book had in a way given me the closure I had been seeking all my life. It is still a part of me but now I know its place and I keep it there. I am glad I went on this self discovery journey, I am glad I came out on top and with something I am really proud of.
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler