Day 71: Grief and Distance

Feeling: tired, un-hungry
Tasting: a comforting orange mocha with biscuits from Hassett’s
Seeing: the rain fall outside my widow
Hearing: the chords of a new song in jazz ensemble
Smelling: smoked paprika

I know that most of what I’ve been posting here have been recaps of my day with the occasional insight thrown in. But I need to write about something and I can’t think of a better time to do it. But the quick recap is: woke up later than usual, got brunch at a new favorite café (Hassett’s), went to lecture, did laundry and cleaned my room, went to jazz rehearsal, ate lots of pasta and Skyped with Brian, hung out in Apartment Eight.

My first semester at college, a new friend of mine died. It was the first time a close peer of mine had died, maybe the first friend I lost… I can’t remember exactly. But the point is, it was a new experience for me. He was a member of my pledge class in my frat and I was looking forward to spending many more semesters with him. Not too many though, since he was older than me and had fewer semesters left til graduation than I did.

But I digress. The point is, my siblings had each other. The mourning process wasn’t perfect, but if one of us needed a pair or welcoming arms for a hug or someone to share ice cream with, one didn’t have to look too far. The night that we were all informed of our sibling’s death, I was able to sleep over at my friends’ apartment and make hot chocolate for everyone and snuggle with their cat. It was a bittersweet night, but necessary for me.

However I couldn’t help feeling that I was taking this too hard. I hadn’t known this guy for very long, why would I need to email my professors and explain this situation? Was my desire to not spend time alone really a symptom of mourning, or just because I believed that’s what I was supposed to feel? Was the difficulty I had getting out of bed each Friday morning because I was having trouble seeing the purpose of being alive, or just a reluctance to let myself have healthy sleep habits?


During winter break, I was staying on campus to take a class and work on a play. I remember waking up one morning and seeing lots of Facebook posts about someone in my theatre home who had died. Although he and I weren’t particularly close, his art had touched me. And he was a close friend of my friends, whom I care deeply about.

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to be close to my friends and share their pain, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t back in Baltimore in my theatre home with them. I wasn’t sure how to go about dealing with this. I ducked into a sandwich shop, sat down by myself, and called my mom. I had practice from the previous semester in telling my family that someone had died, but it didn’t make

So, I had to send them my love from afar, and seek people close by who could ease my pain. But I felt like that was wrong. Why should I ask for comfort from people who weren’t involved in this community at all, for a death of someone who was not directly my friend? I felt like I was taking something that wasn’t mine that I shouldn’t even want.

But I needed to feel closeness. I couldn’t go pay a visit to my summer program teachers were his friend. And yet, maybe being an hour away and working on a separate theatre piece would be what I needed.


I was talking to a couple new friends that I’d made here in Ireland. One of them, an American, had started a graduate program here at UCC right after the death of her father, and she talked about how moving here to Ireland caused her happiness to skyrocket. Another friend, also an American studying abroad, talked to me about a friend back home who had committed suicide a few weeks after she’d arrived in Ireland.

The feelings that I had today, when seeing the election results, reminded me strongly of that bright winter morning I learned about my theatre colleague, or the cozy library chair where I read the frat email on my phone. And the doubtful feelings are familiar too. How do I know that I’m really this upset and not just absorbing all the negative energy from people who will probably be more affected than myself? How do I know that this is what’s putting me in such a bad mood, and that I’m not just looking for an excuse to wallow?

Then there’s the issue of distance. I’m farther away from my country than I was from my theatre home when I was in college, yet I have more people on my side here. I have like-minded individuals and Americans to commiserate with, and those who think differently when I’m ready to examine the diversity of our opinions. Which is not right now. I believe it’s okay to hide out in the echo chamber for a bit while you heal.

But the fact that I’ve been through this before should ease my doubts that my grief is genuine. Why not just let myself feel whatever comes to mind? There’s no use in denying or repressing myself; that’s not going anyone good. So I’ll try my best to be honest with myself and with y’all around me, and I am of course here to listen to whatever you have to say.

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One thought on “Day 71: Grief and Distance

  1. Sometimes grief is inexplicable. Stuff we think “shouldn’t” affect us can actually hit us pretty darn hard. We have to learn to give ourselves permission to grieve, and to do whatever seems right to take care of ourselves while we heal. Check my FB page and see the words of encouragement Dr. McClary sent out to the choral program.

    Like

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