“If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.” John von Neumann
Opening the conversation of grief and opening yourself to grief is an essential part of the grieving process— nay, a vital component to living on. All too well, we know that grief and death (sadly but surely) is an inevitable element of life: one can simply not love or live without the prospect of death shadowing over at certain points of our lives. Interestingly, for millennia, Buddhists have openly and actively acknowledged the certainty of death as something that will happen to all living things and it is said that when you can accept this truth, you will live a more fulfilling life. So, why do we all struggle so much with death? There are two main reasons. Firstly, this a quintessential illustration of our society's shortcomings in things all grief and death. Death has very much become a taboo, a topic that arouses trepidation, the topic that people find themselves tiptoeing around— the quiet kid in the class that no one knew how to talk to. How can one talk about such a natural event when it has been turned into a stranger, a sensitive and secretive topic? Here, silence is truly the loudest sound that makes grief hurt volumes, more than it should. Secondly, it is just natural to hurt so much. The price we pay for love is grief, and for most, that entails the whole concoction of challenging emotions that grief entails such as sadness, anger, guilt and shock.
That is why conversing about grief and death is so vital.
One of the greatest sources of this conversation lies in literature. Books are more important than you can imagine. Countless grievers have found profound solace in the words of writers. As Neumann states in the quote above, life is rife with complexities as with grief: they are irreducible. Additionally, this translates into literature, where complexities and nuances are explored. Grief cannot be simplified to an equation or a linear process of working out as with mathematics. Contrastingly, it is messy, tangled and has deep anchored roots within the depths of the earth. In the great words of Andrea Levy's Small Island character Gilbert, "paper is harmless... but what is sometimes written on it can be explosive". Perfectly, this quote conveys the power of the written word. In terms of grief, it allows one to understand it and gain advice; find hope and comfort; feel connected to their loved one and the grieving author; and, finally, urges one to evaluate it and open up the conversation.
This is one way in which you can reinvest in life. Think and talk about your grief. Confide in others and that will make all the difference. It may seem daunting at first but allow your loved one and yourself to live on by doing so. This will offer hope for life after grief, and soon this will translate into fulfilment and acceptance. It is amazing what these conversations can do. If you do not have a friend or family member to talk to, try counselling, grief support groups, or simply talk to a stranger* (by that I mean those part of the online grief community). The online grief community is a conversation of grief itself. Engaging in Instagram live streams, commenting on posts, reading blogs, and messaging people on these platforms possess an amazing transformative power. It works both ways, helping the person at each end and can reignite that spark of hope.
One Heart (Tang Variation)
Red beans grow in the south country
In the warm weather there will be many branches
I want you to be here to pluck them with me
That is the thing I yearn for: it will cure my heart.