Detached. Like a retina, or a singular house. That’s how I feel.
Grief Awareness Week has just been and a search of the hashtag on Twitter throws up post after post about how to manage grief. I can’t read any of them. None of it makes sense. Grief isn’t managed, it’s experienced. Maybe that’s just me, just this phase of life without Dan. I don’t decide what to do with my grief, it just occurs, like breathing, or song lyrics that play on unwelcome repeat, or an itch.
I don’t want to read about ways to manage this. I don’t want to learn how to parcel up my feelings and store them neatly on some shelf at the back of my mind. I want the shelves as messy as Dan’s bedroom, so that bits trip me up daily, reminding me that he was here, and is not here. I don’t want to erase him in any way from my daily life.
I am terrified of forgetting about Dan.
Nothing holds any meaning anymore. I find things to do to occupy my time. I need to earn money to pay the basic bills to live and to buy presents for people for Christmas. But it’s all rubbish, isn’t it? A huge collective swapping of lots of landfill, to put money in the pockets of people who probably have quite a lot anyway. I mean, buy local and all that, but really, it all seems a bit desperate and pointless.
I’m not being a grinch, I just don’t care. Nothing arouses any passion in me. I can remember enough of how to mimic my previous responses to things though. I know how to ooh and ahh at the football, and to express delight at some nice tasting food. But it’s all a veneer. There’s nothing I want, nothing I need, which is incredibly fortunate, but leaves me in a vacuum. There is nothing I am looking forward to, especially. The things I like do not bring me the pleasure they once did. Sunrises, walks along the beach, birdsong. It’s all there, and I just don’t care about any of it.
Maybe trying to grasp some of the festive spirit will stir my desire on some level. This weekend I will reach down the Christmas decorations. The house is currently upside down due to painters freshening up the living room, stairs, and landing. More privilege, more disorder. But maybe, when they leave, and after a few evenings of shuffling round furniture, we can bring out those boxes of tinsel and twinkly lights. Maybe re-enacting the traditions of the past will rekindle some joy. Although I still don’t think I’m ready to put up the artificial tree that Dan and I used or decorate it with baubles we chose. The notion makes me swallow hard. No. This year the decorations will be my partner’s, and I will try to leech some seasonal cheer from those, from the Christmas music we will play as we place stuffed snowmen in the bay window, from the act of preparing to celebrate with those we are left to love.