Learning to Grieve

Eleven days ago, my uncle passed away very suddenly at the age of 41. My uncle was a brilliant, talented, and kind-hearted man. He was an avid reader, loved mythology, spoke three languages, and loved me very deeply, as I loved him. It sounds odd to say that someone loved you. It comes off a bit presumptuous, but I have no doubt that my uncle loved me very much and that we connected with many of our interests. He was the man that wrote songs for me, built snow dogs with me, and was always delighted to spend time talking to me. As anyone would be, I was devastated on hearing the shocking news that he had passed away, in just minutes, due to an embolism.


Devastated is not even enough to describe it. I was racked with an unreasonable guilt for all the things in his life that he didn’t have the time to fix or complete, goals he couldn’t reach, the better future that seemed to be coming his way. Despite the fact that I couldn’t have done a thing to help him even if he had lived for another 30 years, I still felt the weight of this incredible injustice.

Why him? Why now? I demanded of whoever the hell was responsible for this.

Couldn’t you have taken anyone else? I thought selfishly.

Humans are selfish in this way. I admit to that selfishness, though I am ashamed of it when I think of all the people who spend their entire lives suffering. On the cosmic scale, his death is a blip. The whole world is not grieving, but to me and family, the world is changed forever.

Eleven days feels like both an incredibly short time and an incredibly long time. The first few days themselves were so long that it felt as though weeks had already passed. At the same time, reality has still not quite set in. It can’t possibly have already been almost half a month? While time will heal the pain, the passing of time is also one of my biggest fears. I am terrified that I will forget to think of him, forget to keep him with me. It seems to me that humans always forget the most important things The possibility that I could somehow dishonor his memory fills me with dread. Death is one of the strongest forces we reckon with as humans, yet we so easily disregard it until we come face to face with it.

Death is not something I am familiar with, and it is hard to say that anyone is comfortable with it. The afterlife is the biggest mystery of our world, and one we can never know about until it’s too late to tell. It is times like these I wish I had a deeper connection with God, a church, the universe, or whatever it may be.

I have never had a firm belief system. When I think of a higher power, I usually inadvertently picture one single being. It is quite possible that this is only because I was raised in the South, surrounded by Christians.  Rather, I like the idea of the universe itself being this “higher being.” The image of God is too close to a human form in my mind.  The universe is an all-encompassing entity that can reach to all corners of the earth and can create cosmic balance because of this. A God with two hands like me and you – it just doesn’t sit right with me.

I like this idea of cosmic balance. I don’t really know what higher power is out there – but I DO believe in some sort of cosmic balance. People die everyday and people are born everyday. We cut down trees, we plant new ones (or at least we should!) Balance is not always about having things 50/50. Water is not 50% hydrogen and 50% oxygen. It’s balance comes in a different ratio. Everyone on earth can’t possibly be happy and successful and healthy all at the same time. To create equilibrium, some people suffer while some people thrive. This is the only way I can think to justify the masses of enslaved, slaughtered, impoverished, starving, sick, and terribly sad people on this planet. The only thing I cannot understand is: why them?

Why him?

This is my first real, bitter taste of grief over a loved one. No matter how small this may seem to the world, it is monumental to me. I can only wholeheartedly hope that he is taken care of and is happy in the afterlife. May his soul rest in eternal peace, whatever form that may take.