These are just my thoughts…
It seems strange to have arrived at forty-something with only a few deaths among my circle of family and friends (but by no means none of significance), and of course I know that from here on in they will come with increasing frequency. Some of you reading this will be nodding from your own greater experience, no doubt.
Today I heard that a friend from school had passed away, someone I had not seen for twenty years until I got in contact with him a few years ago, and had got to know again through the lens of maturity and see the wonderful person he had continued to become. Not only that, but I got acquainted with his beautiful family, further enriching the experience.
Hearing that this great bloke had suddenly died was shocking, and plunged me back to a dark time when someone knocked on my door with news of the same kind for me, my heart swallowing itself whole. The grief I have known most intimately is for a partner: full of a leaden lack of sensation, except an ache in your chest you can’t rub away; of meals barely touched and mockingly tasteless, and toss-turn nights with dreams of mounds of dirt in the bed at your side; the text messages you send, knowing they’ll never be answered; the absolute, bloody loss as your dreams for the future are ripped away.
Grief is personal, of course. Maybe yours feels different to what I describe.
Grief is because of gains, and it’s because of loss. Sometimes, gains keep multiplying in time as you move slowly towards the light again, and you bless what you had with genuine gladness instead of an assumed, desperate hopefulness. Grief can change shape, if you let it, with time, and become a thing that creates you into something better than you were. That’s what I hope for my friend’s family (though I acknowledge that the experience of the departed’s family can be very different from that of a partner): that the light of his life shines over the rest of theirs.