death, Grief, Guest Posts, poetry

Grief Anniversary.

December 17, 2014

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By E.B. Wexler

“anniversary” implies that I do not have grief the other 364 days

I do.

But as the date approaches

I feel, slowly arising

The original grief

The breath sucked out of me when I got the news over the phone.

The early grief

Walking around in a daze, wondering where she went

How things would be now

 

She was 31

She was my “person”

And it was out of the blue.

I have not been the same since. And I don’t want to be….

 

what you don’t know is that my life will never be the same

what you don’t know is that if or when this happens to you, yours won’t either

what you don’t know, until it happens to you, is how it feels

what you don’t know is that I can’t TELL you how it feels

I can say a million words, but they won’t begin to convey it

what you don’t know is that all of the losses touch each other

suffering a loss today can bring up a loss from decades ago

and it feels real

it feels current

it’s one big steaming pot of loss

what you don’t know is that it’s always present for me

 

so for those of you

who would never bring it up

and then later say, when I finally do

“I was going to say something but I didn’t want you to get upset”

I’M ALREADY UPSET.

you mentioning it doesn’t make me upset

it’s not like until you brought it up….I forgot about that piece of me I’ll never have again

for anyone who says

“you need to stop thinking about it. It’s making you sad.

I am ALREADY sad.

And by the way…

What’s wrong with sad?

 

what you don’t know

is that asking

is the best thing you can do

but what you don’t know

is that if you don’t ask, it is probably because you’re scared to ask

because the answer is too scary for you

maybe because it hasn’t happened to you

 

what you don’t know is that if or when it happens to you

and someone finally asks you about it

you are going to want to kiss them full on the mouth

collapse into their arms

what you don’t know is that the gratitude you feel

towards people who ask

who can witness your pain

is almost as bottomless as the grief itself

 

what you don’t know

is that the platitudes

not only don’t help

they make me angry

at you.

“I know she wouldn’t want you to be sad”

really?!

Please.

to start with, you never met her.

And…..do you know one of the many reasons I miss her so much?

because if this had happened with someone else

if she was still here to comfort me

she would say:

“don’t listen to them, Bets.  You ARE sad.  “she” would want you to be wherever you are.

trust the process.”

 

what you don’t know

is that the one person who could best see and love and comfort me through tough times

see me when I couldn’t see myself

is the one for whom I’m grieving.

double whammy.

I need to talk to HER about losing HER.

I need to cry to her about losing my best friend

My “person”.

part of my insides

the one who not only understood everything I didn’t get before–

but who GAVE it to me herself.

 

what does not show

is the searing pain I have deep deep inside

so deep that sometimes I don’t even see it

what does not show

is the part of my heart that feels all carved out

like an avacado

scraped to the very skin

that sound of the metal spoon hitting the inside of the rough peel

there is no more

empty

 

what does not show

is the anger I feel every time someone fails to see my losses

fails to see ME

what does not show

is the picture in my head of me smacking you

when you say something like

“she’d want you to move on.”

(once again, only from people who never met her.

how can you speak for her?)

 

move on…..from what?

where have I stopped?

 

what does not show

is the movement of my feelings

moving all the time

up and down, side to side, waxing and waning

all in service of being present

not better. Present. To whatever shows up.

 

because all you see is pain

and you want it to go away.

what does not show

is the tidal wave of grief that comes on her death date

or her birthday

or when something reminds me of her in a way that feels like a punch in the gut

in a way that causes my body to remember both that she is gone

but also that she was here.

How much I loved her.

 

what does not show

are the tiny shards of my heart

that I’ve been picking up and picking out of crevices

putting in a bag

little tiny pieces

trying not to step on them or vacuum them up

they seem infinite

and I can’t ever put them back together the way they were

 

what does not show

is the brokenness of my heart.

 

E.B. Wexler is a social worker, writer, yogi and yoga teacher, and lover of independent film. She has taught yoga to children in studios, to residents of homeless shelters, and helped found a mindfulness program for kids at a meditation center. She has written essays, educational texts,and movie and restaurant reviews….but her passion is essays. Her current full-time gig is training law enforcement first-responders on the mean streets of Baltimore how to handle behavioral health crises. In the past year, she had her first police ride-along and taken two Jen Pastiloff workshop, in NYC.

Contact Rachel for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Contact Rachel for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

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28 Comments

  • Reply nancy December 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

    thank you E. for sharing your vulnerability. In the end, it represents the best parts of us. We just may not know it yet.
    nancy

    • Reply EB Wexler December 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Nancy: it is an honor. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Reply Stacey Pardoe Shannon December 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    yes! yes!
    This! This!
    Straight up.
    Dead on.
    Thank you.
    Bless you.

    • Reply EB Wexler December 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Stacey: thank *you*. <3

  • Reply Karin Newman December 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Love this poem. Your poem on grief is spot on and straight up. It’s okay to be sad…it’s okay to be angry…it’s the human condition to grieve. We don’t need to move on, we don’t need to ever be the same. But that is okay.

    Thank you….Peace be with you.

    • Reply EB Wexler December 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Karin: yes! Yes yes yes. Peace to you as well….

  • Reply Alissa leenher December 17, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Thank you. Is it ok that this helps? Is it ok that someone getting it helps? I lost my person 9/11. He wasn’t my husband, my boyfriend even, but he was my person. Tomorrow is his birthday. Even now, it is so hard. One of happiest accidents came in the form of a flight cancelation. I was on my way home from Austin to upstate NY, traveling through Chicago, his home at the time. It was his birthday, his last. We walked through the snowdrifts, arm in arm, laughing with friends. He came to my parent’s home 10 days later. It was the only time they’d meet and the last time I saw him. He was my person, I was his, but I wasn’t ready for the commitment to move where he was ready to go. I wasn’t ready, wasn’t worthy. What if he moved to Austin and it didn’t work? What would happen? A few months later, a girl he’d just met asked him to come try NYC. She was ready, eager even. It was late July or early August when he began his job at Cantor Fitzgerald. Now I wonder, what would have happened? What if I’d been ready? Would he still be here? Even if he’d chosen to marry her, he’d still be here. He was my person, I was his.
    I miss him all the time. I wrote about it a few years ago, on the anniversary of his death, but there really aren’t words to wrap it up neatly. Just because I wrote about it on a day that I was able to see the gratitude more than the grief, but there have been many days since where that was not the case. There are as many facets of my grief as there were facets of him. How can I put that in words? You’ve come close. Thank you. I’m so sorry.

    • Reply Jennifer Pastiloff December 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      This is beautiful. I am so sorry. Send me what you wrote. xx

  • Reply EB Wexler December 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Alissa: thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss. You’re right, there really are no words. But we keep trying anyway. <3

  • Reply Barbara potter December 17, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Wow this got me. This is the best piece on grief I’ve read

    • Reply EB WExler December 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      wow-that’s high praise coming from Mom! Thank you <3

  • Reply Rebecca December 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    As you turn this pain into something that might help others understand, you give a beautiful gift to the world. I am grateful for your work. Thank you.

    • Reply EB WExler December 18, 2014 at 4:38 am

      Rebecca: it is healing for me as well. xoxo

  • Reply Georgina Radley December 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Grief …………written by me on a slip of paper five months after his death

    All consuming and

    Totally indulgent

    As I slip over the edge of sanity

    • Reply EB WExler December 18, 2014 at 4:39 am

      Georgina: yes. yes. oh, yes. <3 to you.

  • Reply Lynnmarie December 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I lost my son last December. This poem feels like it is coming out of my heart. Thank you so much.

    • Reply EB WExler December 18, 2014 at 4:40 am

      Lynnmarie: I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. I’m so glad any of this spoke to you. be gentle….

  • Reply Katie Devine December 17, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Yes. Yes. Yes. All of this.
    On day 30, I can’t even fathom day 365.
    I am so sorry for your loss. And I am so grateful that you were able to share this, making me feel less alone and more understood. Thank you.

    • Reply Jennifer Pastiloff December 17, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      xoxo Katie

    • Reply EB WExler December 18, 2014 at 4:41 am

      Katie….thank you. And sorry for yours, so fresh. I think loss and grief have taught me the most about being present-because you can’t fathom even the next day.

  • Reply Sheila Bergquist December 18, 2014 at 12:27 am

    This is one of the best pieces on grief I have ever read. You hit all the nails on the head. I am going to read this again and again, I know. Thank you for this.

    • Reply EB WExler December 18, 2014 at 4:42 am

      Sheila: thank *you*. xoxo

  • Reply Shelley Abbott December 21, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing your poem. I haven’t recently read much on the subject of grief. After my 5 month old daughter died suddenly in Nov of 2000, I read everything I could get my hands on. I just wanted to know that I wasn’t alone, that others had felt pain like mine, that I wasn’t crazy. The pain was nearly unbearable, and was compounded by other’s around me avoiding the subject, not mentioning her name. As if talking about her would somehow make me think about my loss. It was ALL I thought about for months! People just didn’t know what to say, or sometimes what NOT to say! The words you wrote are all so true and struck a chord in me that will resonate for a long time to come. Thank you for expressing what I felt, and continue to feel, but could not put into words of my own.

    • Reply EB WExler December 21, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      Shelley: I’m so deeply sorry for your loss. and so glad you shared this here. I’m also glad my piece spoke to you. what you wrote:
      “The pain was nearly unbearable, and was compounded by other’s around me avoiding the subject, not mentioning her name. ” REALLY resonated with me. blessings, and peace and comfort to you. <3

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    […]  E.B. Wexler is a social worker, writer, yogi and yoga teacher, and lover of independent film. She has taught yoga to children in studios, to residents of homeless shelters, and helped found a mindfulness program for kids at a meditation center. She has written essays, educational texts,and movie and restaurant reviews….but her passion is essays. Her current full-time gig is training law enforcement first-responders on the mean streets of Baltimore how to handle behavioral health crises. In the past year, she had her first police ride-along and taken two Jen Pastiloff workshop, in NYC. She has previously been published on The Manifest-Station. […]

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