The Gifts Of Grief.
It must have been around 3:00 or 4:00 am. I have very selected memory since it happened in March.
There are some things that I can remember down to the last detail, and others that I feel like I wasn’t even there to bear witness. In any case, it was very late, or very early, depending on perspective, and the painkillers in my mother’s bedroom next to mine were sounding pretty appetizing. So appetizing, I was thinking about taking all of them.
I can’t tell you why I wanted to kill myself; I also can’t tell you what stopped me. Evidently though, something did. That’s the funny thing about grief, and yes, it is hilarious, nothing makes sense. Maybe it was the fact that so many tears were coming down from my eyes I couldn’t see in front of me to get up from my bed to go look for these painkillers.
Maybe it was the fact that I was supposed to start a nanny job that Monday, and I couldn’t let those parents down; you know, with being dead and all. I was literally actively thinking about killing myself and my responsibilities to strangers came to mind.
Maybe it was the fact that I have “Born to be brave, born to survive, 10.14.90-3.6.15” tattooed on me and having those words and then going on to kill myself would be an irony that even my afterlife self could barely live with. I was also supposed to get lunch with a friend that week. I simply just did not have the time kill myself. How ridiculous.
There was too much to do.
I did, however, have the good sense to know that I needed to tell someone. The someone I told was a best friend of more than 10 years, who would later tell me that she didn’t think we should be friends anymore about three weeks after. And the stabs keep comin’.
That’s another hilarious thing about grief, it brings out the best, worst, and true self of people. Some of it hurts, and it hurts real bad. Some of it is surprising and gets you through the days that you thought would be unbearable.
And some of it is beautiful because you realize you are not alone in this journey that will show you every shade of color, light, and darkness… but only if you let it. I do not think my story is special, nor is it unique. But here is some background.
My boyfriend, Drew Weston, lost his fight with addiction from a heroin overdose on March 6, 2015. He was 24. The way we were when we were together, and the way we felt about each other, was more than just your standard boyfriend/girlfriend scenario.
Other synonyms that would be acceptable are, best friends, partners, soul mates, or the love of my life.
Since his death, the thought of suicide has crossed my mind more than I am comfortable admitting. And although I have seen the bottom of the hole, I somehow decide eventually it is time to get out, find a rope, and pull myself up.
Sometimes I have people helping me and sometimes I am strictly using only my upper body strength, which, let’s face it, is close to non-existent. Somehow though, I do it and I keep doing it.
What has been helpful for me is that the light and darkness that come with grief are welcomed into my life. A fun fact about me: I have no fear of crying in public. And when I feel the tears brewing, no matter where I am, what I am doing, I cry. I want to feel all of the miserable and beautiful things that come with grief, because I do believe both exist.
I accept the days that I can’t get out of bed, the days that the hole in my chest feels like it has been filled with sand or water, and not only can I not breathe, but I’m drowning, and the days that I want to die.
I accept the days where I appreciate the sky or the ocean, the days where my sister or friend makes me laugh so hard I think I am going to pee myself, and the days where I look for comfort in another human being.
And just when things feel like they are starting to get better or make sense, in the middle of a fun outing with my family, I start crying because another wave of everything that I lost comes over me. And I let it happen.
I let it happen, so in 10 years, when my life is different from what I thought it was going to be, and who knows, maybe I will even be happy, I don’t sink back into a hole that I never saw coming and I can’t find a rope.
I do it because this is just another experience in my life, and although more traumatic than any other, still an experience that I would like to experience, even in the most uncomfortable forms and the darkest of days.
So my unsolicited advice to you? Feel everything. The good, the bad, the painful, the beautiful. Give yourself that gift. Experience moments in life that are heartbreaking and raw so you can have the glorious and magnificent.
Something that Drew would talk about that has shaped the way I choose to experience life, is how everyone is so focused on capturing the moment, they don’t see the beauty that is right in front of their face. You don’t need to experience imagery through a screen when it is right in front of you.
Put the phone down. Put the camera down. Put your guard down. When this happens, human connection rises. Feel something. If you are going to feel something, do yourself a favor and feel everything.
I end with this. I am not okay today. I most likely won’t be okay tomorrow. Most days I am drowning. But who says water isn’t beautiful?
Arielle Sokoll-Ward is a graduate student pursuing a Masters in Clinical Social Work. She has started a chapter of a grief recovery support group for people who have lost a loved one to drugs or alcohol. She thinks that self-love and doing something every day that makes your soul happy are essential to living. She walks on the continuous journey to find human connection and the meaning of life.