Grief: An Honest Confession
There have been two times in my life where I’ve been absolutely ashamed of the last words I said to someone before they died. Two different people. Two different occasions. When I think about my actions, I feel a burning inside of myself that represents shame, embarrassment, and pain. I think to myself of how wrong I truly was and how utterly disappointed I am for allowing myself to say such words and have those words be the very last things I’d say to those people before they died.
A younger version of me was angry, spiteful, and I felt like an outcast. Sure, I had plenty of reasons to be mad considering the lifestyle I was in, but it did not give me a right to speak how I did. I was miserable at the way my life was and I had nothing to lose and zero shame whatsoever in many of my life choices including my word usage.
Thankfully now, I realize the power of words. Words are magic after all, and that’s why it’s important to be extremely careful with them. I absolutely despise ending phone calls and conversations on a bad note. It makes me very uncomfortable considering the experiences mentioned above, which still bother me today. I try to avoid confrontation now unless heavily provoked, because there’s that little voice in the back of my mind, saying, “Hey. Don’t be an ass. Remember what happened before?”. Yes, I say to my conscience and myself. Yes, I remember. I dislike ending things on bad terms. If things must end now, I try to say, “I wish you all the best.” Inside of myself, I simply cannot bear losing another person to this mysterious creature called death, and having my last words to them be something terrible. I’m trying to really work on it now in my adult life. I think much of being an adult is self-improvement anyway, so this is just another area to focus on.
I have now tried to instill this belief in my child as well. Never go to bed angry, never say rude last words. You may never know when or if you will see someone again. Even if you are mad at someone, you should not say something you will regret if the worst were to happen. It can literally eat you alive for years. Trust me, I would know.
The first time I remember grief as a feeling was when I was about 4 years old. Maybe it was not so much grief, but disappointment. My grandpa was sick and I overheard my parents talking about it in the kitchen. My dad was planning to fly to the West Coast to see him because they had a feeling he would pass soon considering his condition and he was not doing so well. My brother was about 2 years old at the time, and for some reason, my dad took my brother on the trip. I remember telling my dad that I wanted to go, and my 4-year-old logic was: “What if this is the last time I see grandpa?”. Naturally, I was brushed off and my parents told me not to worry.
Shortly after the trip, my grandpa passed away and I remember the feeling of disappointment, grief, the satisfaction of being right, and anger because my dad did not allow me to go on the trip. It was one of the first times I can truly remember such a whirlwind of emotions. A short time later, my maternal grandfather died, and I vividly remember that too.
I’m pretty familiar with death. I’ve even written a Letter to Death before. There have been quite a few deaths that have impacted me like I’ve run face-first into a poll on the street because I’m looking down at my phone instead of looking up. Boom! Now my head hurts, and I’m trying to figure out what the hell just happened. I don’t speak about it often, but my dad passed when I was a teenager. My first love died several years ago. Most recently, I lost a very good friend who was more genuine than anything at all. She was incredibly supportive and one of the people in my life who was supportive for no reason at all. People who support you, for no reason are the most special. They don’t ask for anything in return. They just truly want to see you happy and succeed – yeah, she was one of those; a rare gem to find in this day and age for sure. I love and miss her greatly.
People who support you for no reason are the most special.
The death that hit me hardest was losing my high school sweetheart. Even though we were not together when he passed it shook me terribly and then and only then did I realize how much I did love him still. When he died, my world changed forever. I questioned everything about my life at that moment. I even questioned the love I had for the person who I had just married. Sometimes, it takes losing someone for you to truly realize how deeply they made an impression on you and your life.
Sometimes, it takes losing someone for you to truly realize how deeply they made an impression on you and your life.
That old saying, “You don’t know what you got til’ it’s gone.”, is more true than I can ever describe. I cried for two years after he died. Sometimes it was spontaneous. The pain I felt from losing him is the worst grief I’ve ever felt in my life. I remember some nights just sitting at the edge of my bed and crying, and just screaming into my pillow. His words would echo in my mind. “Let’s go to Naples, baby.”, I’d hear him say. I’d dream of him often and sometimes I still do. In my dreams, we fight like lovers. Like we once did. I tell him, “Okay, I have to go now. Come on, let’s go”. He sits near the windowsill and looks outside at the rain. His sketchbook is in his hand and he is drawing, just like I remember him. He looks at me, annoyed, “Kim”, he sighs, “You know I can’t go back with you. I have to stay here.” A couple of times, he asked me to stay, but I told him I have far too much to complete here in this realm yet. He understands, and occasionally we meet up still. If you know me, you know who I’m speaking about and I’ve spoken of him before. Rob was one the most influential people in my life, and somehow, in some ways he still is.
After his death I did anything and everything to connect with him. He was an artist, a writer, a poet, a spoken word lyrical genius, and he made music. He was so creative, and I loved him. He called me his muse. The irony of that is after he passed, he would become a muse of sorts to me, if the definition we use is: a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist; instead of the mythological definition. I created so much art. I started writing more. I became inspired to make it my personal mission to not let creativity die, in my own world and that of everyone else’s too.
When we lose someone we love sometimes these magical things happen where our life is forever changed, but it’s not all bad. We become more caring, hopeful, or optimistic in some respect. We remember them. We learn to love differently. We learn to be more kind to ourselves and to people around us. When comparing Rob’s death to one of my friends who passed recently, there are certainly differences in emotion and feeling but the impact they made on my life will forever be unforgettable. Through every loss we experience, we also gain something. It’s almost like a trade of emotion and energy.
When losing friends in this life, we gain them in another, or in a spiritual realm, or hall – whatever it is that you believe. Having those people in my life helped shaped me for sure, but also by not losing them, would I be who I am now? Probably not. Death is another human experience in which we learn and grow. After everything that has happened, it is easy for me now to look at death in a different way than I did say 10 or 15 years ago. Do you think there is any goodness associated with death? Can death be seen from an optimist perspective? Or is that only achievable after you have recovered from all stages of grief? If you take anything from this post, I hope it’s that you always remember to never go to bed angry, and never say a harsh last word.