Grief, Actually

I feel like I talk a lot about grief. I write a lot about grief.  But what does grief look like? I can only speak for myself and, for me, grief looks like a lot of things. Grief holds a space in my heart and all the emotions I have ever felt. 

The random emotions that grief brings hit me like a brick wall. What happens next differs a bit, but usually, I am sad. I want to cry at everything. One song comes on, and I give in. I have a grief playlist I created on spotify and I lean on it heavily when sadness is the emotion I feel. My family had put together a shared google photos album prior to Marisa’s memorial. That’s another resource I access. Social media is another, reading what people wrote to her when she was sick, and, after she passed. But what does grief really look like for me? 

It’s hard for me to write it out so maybe this will explain it better.


A rock sits at the bottom of my stomach. It feels like my heart has encompassed this rock and the rock sank my formerly happy heart. What comes next is unavoidable. 

A tear falls from my eye as her smile enters my mind. I break. I could be sitting at my desk, camping with friends, driving home, or shopping at the grocery store when suddenly, I am completely broken. I put on some music and give myself space. I step away from my desk, my friends, or whatever is in front of me and I create for myself mental and emotional space. 

Then I let it come, whatever it is. Usually for me, it’s a lot of tears. I may send a message to my mom, listen to a sad playlist or spend time looking through old photos, letters, and notes. That rock, engulfed by my heart, doesn’t leave the bottom of my stomach until I let it all out, allowing myself to feel whatever comes. 


Maybe this description of grief is vague, too… As I’ve said, it’s often a myriad of tears for me, a sunken inside feeling, and a pain that hurts so much I don’t fully know what to do with myself. Sometimes I just sit. Sometimes I pace. Sometimes I curl up in my bed and wrap myself in blankets. I suppose it’s what you might expect it to be, but it has lasted so much longer than I could’ve ever imagined.

The lasting part I’ve learned to love. A piece of her was left behind, in me. Maybe she’s that rock that sinks my heart, but if it keeps the memory of her fresh, I will embrace it all the same. 

As Marisa would say, always be kind and remember to smile.

07.26.2021, 19 months since

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