The universe is a dick
After Clay died I searched high and low for a reason, for some sort of ‘purpose’ that I falsely thought I had to find. See, throughout most of our lives we are told “Everything happens for a reason”, “always look for the silver lining”, “insert generic inspirational life quote here”, and for the majority of my life so far I’ve been in that mindset, that person that always tried to look for the good and live a ‘glass half full’ kind of existence. But what happens when a fucking tornado comes by and smashes your theoretical glass to smithereens? Did I not thank the universe enough or manifest my dreams in the right way? Did I not specify that I actually wanted to bring my baby home?? I can tell you this for certain, nobodies, and I repeat nobodies babies are dying because we didn’t manifest in the right way or we thanked the universe one too few a time.
It’s taken me up until very recently to truly sit back and realise I don’t need to look for the silver lining. Clay shouldn’t have died when he did, he should be here with us now and I shouldn’t be sat here writing this blog post. Truly, utterly shit things happen to good people all the time for no reason what so ever. As a society we have been moulded into trying to find the positive or ‘look on the bright side of life’. But sometimes it is more than ok to sit under that grey cloud of rain and sadness, to just be with your emotions. And guess what? From that grey cloud we can look out and hope for clearer, brighter days ahead but know that’s not where we are or even where we want to be right now. Quite frankly we feel uncomfortable saying to somebody “wow that is so fucking shit, what a complete shit storm’. We find the need to preface it with an underlining current that something positive will come out of this in the end. Well I’m here to tell you, in my opinion, let's all make an effort to stop being toxically positive all the time. If it makes you uncomfortable not finishing off your sentence with an ‘at least’ or a Pinterest ready quote just pause for a minute, realise your comfort is not important in this scenario, and if you are there thinking people want positivity, I’m here to tell you that from my experience of talking to other grieving people most of the time we actually just want validation that what we are going through is as shit as we think it is in our head. We know how useful being positive can be sometimes but that doesn’t mean we need a constant reminder of it. Lead by the way the other person is talking to you, there’s a time and place for everything.
Let’s unpick this a little bit further. To be completely transparent with you, I have a journal, it's a guided journal that takes me through writing 3 positive affirmations, 3 reasons to be grateful and 3 actions to make today ‘amazing’ which I can fill out on a daily basis if I wish. At times this journal has really helped me, it enables me to stay present (a concept I struggle with a lot), reminds me that I have many things in life to be grateful for (including the fact that I get to be Clay’s mum), and makes me feel like the universe is full of abundance and if I stay in a positive mindset life is that little bit easier. It’s true as well to a certain degree, life does feel lighter and slightly more bearable when you are in a positive mindset, I am not saying that positivity and the odd inspirational quote are all bad, there’s definitely a time and place for them and positivity and hope are two things that have ebbed and flowed in and out of my life for the past 6 months or so. Dan and I have even discussed if Clay dying happened to us, if the universe ‘chose’ us, because we have so much good in our life, amazing friends and family and an amazing life that we are truly grateful for, so maybe the universe had to even things up by dealing us this life changing blow. I’ve come to realise I don’t really believe that, I don’t think there a finite amount of goodness in the world, or we all have a limited amount of goodness before we have to have some shit thrown in for good measure. I think it’s just our minds trying its best to justify death in whatever way it can.
As a society, we view grief as something we need to go through, deal with it and come out the other side. Subconsciously I think we give grievers an approximate 12 month time line and if they are still seen to be upset or ‘stuck in their grief’ after that then suddenly they need help and there’s something wrong, the trauma of the death is ‘stuck’ in their body. Now I’m not saying help is a bad thing at all, and if you are stuck in those very early feelings of grief and unable to come up for air then I think reaching out for help is definitely not a bad idea. But grief is not something that needs to be cured. It is not an illness, it doesn’t need to be fixed.
Grief is there because we chose to love.
How amazing would it be if as a society we could see grief as an emotion within itself, it can and should sit alongside happiness, joy, anger and sadness. I’ve started to visualise early grief being like a suitcase (one of those old fashioned massive ones without wheels!), you have to lug that suitcase everywhere you go and over time that suitcase might turn into a backpack, a handbag or even a clutch bag, but its always with us, we are always carrying it. The size of the bag doesn’t decrease in a linear fashion either. Some days, months or years down the line we might wake up to find we need to heave the suitcase up a flight of stairs that day, but as time goes by the days where we carry a clutch bag become more frequent and we become accustom to the weights of the different bags and how we have to rearrange our days to reflect whichever bag is at the bottom of the bed when we wake up that morning.
I’ve been reading a book recently by Megan Divine called “It’s OK That You’re not OK” and she sums it up pretty well in this quote “Some things in life cannot be fixed, they can only be carried.” So please, if you find yourself trying to fix or lessen somebody’s grief, don’t. Instead, maybe just give them a hand lugging the suitcase up the stairs on those especially heavy days.
I think what I’m trying to say is I’ve come to realise that the universe is a dick sometimes, that sometimes life throws you an unbelievably shit curveball that takes all the wind out of you and makes you question all that you once believed to be true. I realise now that I don’t need to live in a world where everything is perfect and there’s meaning to everything that happens. It's exhausting and heartbreaking to try and look for the reason behind everything. Now I’ve come to that realisation I’ve actually found it easier to breath, easier to reflect and easier to look forward. The pressure I felt to find a reason or a purpose has evaporated and in its place is this new acceptance of the imperfect world and imperfect lives we live. But please, can we turn the toxic positivity down a notch when we are faced with a shit storm and accept that living under that grey cloud from time to time isn’t necessarily a bad thing.