Notice I don't say "make it bearable" or "easier" -- wouldn't want to mislead you. Grief is never fully bearable, to be honest, not for the first few years. Decade. Recent emails and conversations have caused me to compare what it was like to lose my dad, to what it has been like to lose Jesse. It really isn't the same; up until Jesse died, I felt the loss of my dad more sharply than I do now. It's not that I don't still miss what a dad means to a child; or what my dad could have been, might have been: losing a child just knocks all that to one side.
At first (and if you look back to the beginning of this blog) there was nothing but devastation. In order to dig out of it, I tried to follow the same path I went through with my dad; believing in something afterward, confronting pain-- not a good idea. Then I tried reasoning my way through it. A lot better. I think Meaghan O'Rourke on Slate has taken that route too. It only works up to a point: no matter what anyone else has written or said about death, no matter how sincere or pointed or deep or meaningful: it all sounds so stupid and wrong and misguided when you yourself are grieving. There are no words that will make it any better. It helps more to know that others are going through it, than what they think of it. Sometimes it helps to know how they go through it, but not prescriptively. We each have to find our own way. When someone tells you how to grieve (and I mean you, Elizabeth Kubler Ross junkies) they aren't really helping you. They're trying to overcome their own grief, maybe, trying to assert their mastery of life, trying to indoctrinate you? I don't indoctrinate. Maybe some find comfort in being told what to do and feel. I only rebel. It makes it worse.
Grieving, that is, expressing your grief, however you do it, is an art form. Not like this, like this. Like child rearing, grief is shaped by the person who is doing it. Take what you want from others' methods, but don't feel you're doing it wrong. You aren't. You'll figure out what you need sooner or later. Don't give up on that.
I don't for example need or want religion to help me. I don't want to read sad poems about losing children. I don't want to delude myself into believing anything that I don't actually know and see for myself. Well meaning people may prefer I do otherwise. I try to avoid confronting them about it; but it's not going to happen.
Things that have helped: the walk to work. Feeling that I can mourn Jesse in the park on the way to work, and cry in the privacy of the city sidewalks. Music. Especially fast beats, with positive messages. I'm a New Orleans girl, so When the Saints Go Marchin In works, but so does Modest Mouse, Jimmy Eat World, Walking on Sunshine. And the song I swear Jesse sent me one morning: Someday, we'll be together. Say it, say it, say it again.