There’s a saying that life is a journey. We all start from the same place, and we are all headed to the same destination; how we get there is what makes our life unique.
The big beats of our life tend to follow that same journey metaphor. We start at one place, we end at another, with twists and turns and detours along the way. School, career, marriage, parenting—each their own journey that make up the bigger adventure that is our life.
Grief isn’t like that. I keep hearing that time will make things better, will heal the gaping wound. It’s been a year and a half, and that isn’t the case. The wound is stitched, but badly and far from healed; it still leaks love like blood seeping through a hastily constructed bandage.
People talk about stages of grief, as if by progressing through them—by going on the journey—healing is possible. It isn’t. If grief is a journey, it’s a Möbius strip, endlessly looping back on itself.
Maybe that’s just my experience. My therapist and psychiatrist tell me I am suffering from complicated grief, defined by the Mayo Clinic as “In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble recovering from the loss and resuming your own life.”
But how could I recover from this loss? I can’t. I’ve resumed my life’s journey, but I’m dragging heavy baggage along the way. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the great parts of the journey—like my son and daughter—but it makes me slower than I was. I stick to the safe path because it’s easy. And the grief is so heavy, it means I can’t shoulder much else.
Maybe one day, the load will lighten. But the weight of my baggage is equivalent to how much of Charlie’s journey was cut short—and that is a lot.