By Bex Peterson, Editor-in-Chief
I have this recurring dream that’s been plaguing me since 2013.
I’m usually in a café, or a pub—some kind of public meeting place—and I see an old friend of mine. I haven’t seen his face since graduation. I rush over, my heart pounding in my chest, and I pull him into a tight hug.
“We all thought you were dead,” I tell him. Every time, my throat is incredibly tight when I say this. “I remember your funeral.”
It’s usually around this point that I wake up, feeling momentarily relieved that my friend is still alive. And then, slowly, I remember.
It will be six years this March since my friend died suddenly; no warning, no previous illness that we knew of, just a heart attack that seemed to strike out of the blue. Two weeks ago, was six years since another friend of mine passed; in February it’ll be seven years for someone else. The years of 2012 and 2013 felt cursed to me. I kept losing people, one after another, with no time to recover between each blow. Every time these macabre anniversaries roll around, I can’t help but wonder at how much time has passed. Has it really already been seven years? Six years? Twelve, since I lost my grandfather? Three, since I lost my grandmother?
Individual grief operates on its own calendar, with its own sense of the minutes and hours, the days and the years. No one gets to tell you that you’re taking too long to process; no one other than you can decide what time you need to come to terms with the loss. And even then, it’s hardly a matter of choice. It’s been six years, and I still have vivid dreams that my friends are alive. I still wake up with that awful momentary relief.
I’ve wanted to punch every person who’s trotted out this line to me in my own times of grieving, but it is a terrible fact that loss is a part of life. I don’t want to use that fact to dismiss the experience; rather, I take it to mean that many of us are grieving at any given time. You won’t always see it, you won’t always hear it, and you won’t always know how deeply someone is hurting.
Be kind to each other. There are so many of us wandering around with holes in our hearts; some that are bigger than others. Love doesn’t fix it, but it can help, sometimes, to lessen the burden.
Until next issue,