“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, sometimes it’s overwhelming. All we can do is learn to dance among the waves”
Grief does indeed come in waves. It does ebb, and it does flow. Sometimes the water does feel calm. But then, at other times it consumes your very being.
In grieving, I have felt tremendous guilt for feeling like I had ever suffered from a broken heart. Heartache- yes. But only in my nan dying, did I experience the true feeling of a battered heart crumbling in your chest.
In the initial stage of losing her, I felt no desire to dance among these dark waves drenching me in sadness. To be honest, I felt no desire for anything really. Sleeping, eating, working. I am a complete work-a-holic so the lack of motivation to work scared me more than being unable to eat or sleep to be honest. I missed meetings and deadline because the conventional world blurred around me.
Grieving requires an entire personal re-calibration, allowing you to navigate through life without the person you have lost. Again, I had no desire to begin such a process. Unfortunately, as I have harshly learnt in the past few weeks, death bears no time on the outside world. Yes, my universe had collapsed, but the rest of the universe continued to flow and to function. I wanted the world to stop spinning, just for a minute, so I could digest what was happening. But it didn’t. I cannot explain what an awful feeling this was. Grief really is the price we pay for adoring someone- it is the love we feel we can no longer give to them.
Six days after my nan had passed, I was due to lead a workshop and perform at a local council event for Care Leavers. The prospect was simply daunting. Mere existence was a struggle and I looked like a sleep deprived, puffy eyed, red faced mythological creature. In the days leading up to the performance I was desperately trying to convince myself to do it, but I couldn’t quite win myself over. Everyone around me was encouraging me to dance. The same phrases echoed round ‘it’ll do you good to get out’, ‘your nan wouldn’t want you to miss it’, you’ll feel better when you’re dancing’. They were all right- categorically. But still, I just didn’t feel I had it in me to bare my moving body to an actual audience. To talk to them, engage them, laugh with them. I decided that I would see how I felt on the morning of the performance.
I woke up charged. Never have I felt more compelled to get up and do something.
I can’t depict exactly why but everything in me said I just had to dance that day.
I wore my Blair Academy T-shirt with more pride than usual.
In my workshop, I was reminded of how good it feels to connect with people and I realised that shutting the world out was more of a depressant than a healer. In my performance, I poured my pain out of every movement. Afterwards, audience members spoke to me about how emotive the piece was and how much they connected with it. It felt so good to achieve something positive through my pain. Dopamine and serotonin ran through my body, and the heavy weight of losing nan eased up momentarily.
I walked away from the venue knowing that I had to actively shift my perception of my nans passing. To be able to function in any capacity, let alone maintain my business, I needed to re-align my thought processes and welcome the grief instead of viewing it as this destructive element of my current existence. I intend to harness this feeling and capitalise on it in my nans’ legacy. Her sheer love for life can manifest itself in the legacy that I carry forward for her. I will never recover from this loss. It has broken me. But, in time, I’ll put my pieces back together differently so that I rise above and beyond this situation.
Grieving is not really a process, as it is so continual, but I encourage anyone suffering from a loss to harness it and pour it into their passion. Pain demands to be felt but also expressed. When words cannot suffice, movement serves as an embodiment of expression. Speak through your grief, love through your grief, lose yourself in your grief, but always move through it- one toprock at a time.