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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Trustey

It took exactly 1594 days for me to start grieving

Updated: Feb 21, 2021

Sure, I thought I was grieving these past four years. When Lady Antebellum came out with “What If I Never Get Over You” and I teared up in the car, I thought it was grief. When three kids on Shark Tank presented their late dad’s idea to the sharks and I missed my dad, I thought it was grief. When I couldn’t stop telling stories about Anna, I thought it was grief. I was wrong; I was missing my people, but I wasn’t making room to grieve them.

It took the perfect storm of events to trigger my grief: the entire world being in an uncertain lockdown, forcing me to slow down and creating time and space to listen to my inner thoughts instead of pushing them aside; wondering why dating in your 20s is so hard and cursing how unfair it is that Jake is gone and not with me; and facilitating a grief & loss group at my hospital internship, challenging me to consider my grief process every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday morning. I could have handled each of these events independently; I could have compartmentalized and moved forward with my days, checking off tasks from my ever-growing ‘to-do’ list and being so wiped by the end of the day that I wouldn’t have the emotional energy to grieve. This system of avoidance has worked wonders for me the past four years. Perhaps too many wonders.

As I sit here in my grief, which is certainly NOT a cute tear streaming down my cheek but instead is a splotchy, tear-stained face with puffy eyes and a nauseated stomach from crying so hard, I begin to conceptualize the gravity of my losses. For what may be the first time, I do not think of AJ, Anna, Dad, and Jake as pieces of a list I have to uncomfortably share with anyone who wants to get close to me. Instead, I sit here and think of each loved one individually and how wildly fucked up it all is some days. I think about how numb I was for months following their funerals. I think about how I cannot remember most of my junior year spring semester because I was in a fog in order to protect myself from grieving. I think about how I’ve tried to tell myself that everything happens for a reason, but in reality I cannot figure out a good reason for any of this. I think of a wedding that should be happening this year, with my dad walking me down the aisle and giving me away to Jake and my sister by my side as my maid of honor. I think of this life I so desperately crave that is literally impossible to achieve.

I wanted to live my life and I didn’t want to be defined by my losses, but how stupid is that? I am defined by my losses. These people molded me into who I am today; their losses paved the path I walk (or sometimes run, because that’s a good way to avoid thoughts, too). I think of how I seek happiness in my world because it feels better to sit in happiness than to sit in sorrow. I think of how grateful I am for all the people who shine light into my life. And, I tell myself it is okay to let go of that lifeline sometimes. It is okay to cry and to yell and to be jealous of everyone and everything and every instagram post and every engagement announcement. It is okay to feel. It feels SO GOOD to feel, even when the emotions are hard. I am human and I am made to experience every emotion, not just the ‘good’ ones.

So today, 1594 days since November 11, 2015, I grieve for the first time. I welcome grief, I create space for it, and I listen to it. I listen to me for the first time in this journey.


(Originally written March 23, 2020)

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