There is no timeline for grief which you can set. This is why it so discomfits the people around the griever. You cannot predict its wanderings. It comes into your life and stays for however long it sees fit. You become a prisoner of sorts. You breathe in and out. You get out of bed. You cook food and eat it. You take care of your children. You even go out with your friends. Meanwhile, Grief forces you to live as if you were in a cage that is almost tall enough to stand in and almost long enough to lie in. You can’t actually stand up, and you can’t actually lie down. Most of the time you crouch and are generally uncomfortable. You long to be free, to run, to not feel the pressure of your little cage of grief. To not fear turning around too fast and smacking into a wall of grief.
Your little cage follows you to school and work and home again. You stand up too quickly and jam your head into grief. Someone bumps you and you collide with the wall. Grief hammers you from all sides until you learn to stay very very still inside your cage. You learn how to move inside it as if you were playing Operation. You don’t touch the sides, the grief doesn’t ring the buzzer, and you have another moment of peace. That’s all well and good, so long as nothing surprises you or changes quickly.
You can keep your old life, but not actually take part. You watch yourself eating, playing, and laughing. You wonder how you do these things. Why there is a necessity to keep moving. Why you do or do not feel joy. Whatever the answers, you wonder if that’s normal. Grief just smirks at you.
Grief eventually gets bored of you. You fail to react quite so spectacularly to its prods and pokes. It becomes so familiar that you think it’s normal and perhaps even begin to ignore its presence. The cage gradually gets bigger, roomier. I’ve been told that one day you’ll stand up and find that you are standing erect. You’ll lie down and find that you’re comfortable. You’ll step into your life and it will feel as if it is again fully yours. You look around with astonishment to find that your jailer has left.
Grief, though, is a terrible packer. When it leaves, it always manages to forget a sock or hat. When you find it, you trip and fall flat on your face. It can take all of your effort to throw the vile thing away from you. Yet, you can never throw it out, because it isn’t something you can control. It belongs to Grief.
But after a while, even that smelly sock can’t trip you. You learn how to avoid looking at it too closely, how to kick it aside while tacitly ignoring it. You walk on. You actually walk on.
Or so I’ve heard. Grief has not yet left me. It’s sitting just over there, and it seems rather amused with me at the moment. It taps its watch to remind me that it will be here all night, and when I wake in the morning, it will be there too.