An Open Letter to Those Grieving
Hello. Welcome. Dear —
I was four when my father died. This by no means makes me an expert on loss. It just means I’ve spent a rather extended period of time around grief. It means that, when I was grown-up enough to do so, I was able to choose if and when I wanted to grieve. And I did, as it turned out.
I picked out years spent in, or avoiding, therapy. I decided to crack open the cavity of my chest so the kraken lying there could burst forth to pillage my life. I let those emotional, throbbing, writhing octopus limbs grasp and fling whatever bits of me it chose. I turned that pain to art while sifting through the wreckage of the rest.
I made that choice. Most of you did not — do not — have that privilege.
I do not know which is better but, should you wish to have had that choice, then I wish you did, too.
There are very few times the entertainment industry gets loss right, though they certainly attempt it with enough frequency.
In How I Met Your Mother’s “Bad News,” affable Marshall bounds outside the characters’ episodically frequented bar to call his father with good news. A ritual for him, for them. Father and son. He is listening to the dial of the phone when his wife arrives with the earth-shaking news that his father has died, suddenly. Unexpectedly.
Before black fades upon the picture, and grief unfurls upon the man, he chokes through the words, “I’m not ready for this.”
You are not ready for this.
It’s okay; I wasn’t either. No one is. No one has been, and no one will be.
Here are some of the other things that are okay, in case you were wondering, or need to hear them, or just need something to disagree with:
It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to snap at people, even if they have lost someone, too. You can whip and lash all you like. No one will think less of you. No one will leave.
It’s okay if you want them to. It’s even okay to push people toward the door. To slam it on them. To refuse to open it. It’s okay to ignore us, the People. You’re allowed to leave texts on read, emails unopened, and calls…