Grief (personified)- A Short Story

“Grief, you’re too big, too heavy, and I don’t like you,” said the woman.

“You show up often and uninvited. You crowd me and weigh me down. I don’t want to feel your presence anymore. I don’t want to feel anything. You cause so much pain and it hurts too much. Go away and never come back,” she told Grief.

Grief heard the woman’s words and thought for a minute before responding. Grief looked the woman in the eye and said, gently, “I’m sorry you’re hurting and that my presence makes it worse. I’m only here to remind you of your humanity. You forget sometimes. When you don’t want to feel, I show up. You might try to hide but I always find you. You feel so much pain because you love so deeply. You cannot have one without the other.”

Grief reached out and took the woman’s hand, “Please, allow me to be with you, if even for a little while. Allow me to hold you, and you can cry on my shoulder. Only when you do, and feel, will I take my leave. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with me. The choice is yours.”

The woman took a deep breath and felt the warmth of Grief’s hands around her own. “Okay,” she replied, “but only for a little while. I can only handle small doses of you, or I am afraid I’ll fall apart completely.”

“Don’t worry,” said Grief, “I know when you no longer need me. Understand that I never truly leave you. I’ll just keep my distance and come back when you need to remember that feeling pain, heartache, anger, and despair are part of the human experience. Without me, you’d forget what love, hope, joy, and compassion are.”

“But I only want to feel love, hope, joy, and compassion,” said the woman.

Grief was silent for a minute and then replied, “Well then, I’ll disguise myself as all the beings and things that you love, since they and I are ultimately one in the same. When it’s time, I’ll transform back into myself to remind you of this promise.”

Weary and exhausted, the woman said, “Okay, Grief. You win. Hold me now and let me sob on your shoulder so I can feel love, joy, hope, and compassion again.” Grief held the woman and let her cry, howl, and sob, letting out all the pain she’d been keeping in her heart.

When the woman finally cried herself to sleep in Grief’s arms and later woke, Grief was gone. The woman looked around for Grief, but it was no use. When the woman went back into the world, she once again felt love, joy, hope, and compassion in all the beings and things in her life, but was still always aware of Grief’s subtle presence.

Whenever one of the beloved beings or things was no longer in the woman’s life, Grief showed up to hold her again. This cycle repeated itself time and time again. Sometimes she saw Grief frequently, and sometimes it was years between visits. The woman began to fully understand what Grief meant by being one in the same with love, joy, hope, and compassion. Without one, the other wouldn’t exist, just like all other complementary opposites in the Universe.

The woman surrendered her fight against and avoidance of Grief. She no longer dreaded Grief’s visit and the pain she felt, but rather learned to embrace Grief right back when they met. Each time Grief held her and her pain gradually eased, like a thorn had been removed from her heart, the woman remembered how much love, joy, hope, and compassion she had felt, and knew would feel again. It wasn’t always immediate, but those feelings would return eventually, just like Grief.

When the woman and Grief met again, the woman said, “Thank you, Grief, for holding me and making me feel. I realize I can’t live without you, just like I can’t live without love.”

“Ah,” said Grief, “you’ve finally learned why I exist. I’m sorry I’ve caused you pain, but it has been for this: to help you remember your wholeness, not your brokenness, even when you feel broken. I have always been there to remind you, and always will be.”

With that, Grief embraced the woman one more time and left. The woman watched Grief disappear, and felt, once again, her return to love, hope, joy, and compassion.