Tuesday 26 May 2020

A Future with Grief.

Hello everyone.

In a few short days, it will be Kinga and I's 11 year anniversary. She has been gone so, so long now, that I have no real clue what life would be like were she still here - there were long term plans of course, but no specifics - no guarantees. Last year, celebrating our 10 year anniversary alone - an event we had planned (we had booked a holiday to Cyprus), one that she was so excited for - it crushed me beyond all words (This was coupled with the fact that we interred her ashes the day before that - the last time I ever held her... May of 2019 was a hard month). This year is different - this year... I'm mourning an event I could not possibly predict. Time has drifted me so far away from that life now, that the details and particulars of it are now entirely lost to an alternate timeline.

The idea of a future with grief is... Well there are no words that can fully express this struggle - but it is something I want to try and talk about today. I realised early on that grief was something I would live with forever - despite the overwhelming agony it creates, it is not some ailment to be cured - there is no pill that could take it from me. Immense grief is a result of immense love - and if that love is now immortalised... Then so is the grief that comes with it. If unspeakable, unimaginable pain is a result of that love, then it is a side effect I knew I'd have to learn to live with too. Words make it sound so simple, don't they? I've spoken before about mourning the version of the future we had planned - the version that my own head can make sense of - the one that was lost. But actually learning to exist in this present reality - the one where an unthinkable, nightmarish version of the future has actually come to pass... It is a feat beyond words.

She probably hated me for taking this. Perhaps she'll come back and shout at me for posting it... Here's hoping!
At first, after Kinga was killed, it was hard to even accept that there is still life after her death - that I hadn't physically died with her. It became hard to even accept that I could be alive in a world where something so unlikely - so evil, had happened. Just looking beyond the next few minutes or hours could be... Impossibly hard, on some days. For me, It became necessary to attempt to live in the immediate moment - the past had become filled with bittersweet, painful and tainted memories: and the future was engulfed in a great, painful void - a place that even glimpsing at could conjure images of great despair.

After some of the initial rawness passes, it seems to become more natural to try and fill the present with distractions - hobbies, work, daydreaming of an alternate reality - anything that can avert your gaze away from that overwhelming void, even for a while. As time goes by, I have found that you can look into that void for longer - but it is no less crushing, and it remains an insurmountable task to even think about attempting to do anything about it. Accepting that you still exist, means accepting all that you lost no longer exists - your person, the future you had planned, and, to some degree at least, the person you were as well. Everything is changed: and none of it is easy to swallow.

Heaven? If it at all exists, I think it'd look something like this.

One thing that I have struggled with - in terms of moving forward, at least - is a changed relationship with death. Death is no longer a concept to me - no longer something that only happens to older, or sick people; I see how indiscriminate an event it truly is. I am more in tune with death - I notice it more on the news, or when I hear people are ill - when people are in situations that may cause even the slightest risk of death. I simply expect death now; I see it everywhere. I'm simultaneously more sensitive to the risk of it, and yet somehow more desensitised to actuality of it. Kinga's death was so random, and so unexpected - that I guess it made me realise that this is an immensely unsafe and dangerous world - that we can die on any day, at any moment.

I have lived over two years longer than Kinga, now. I have had much longer than she ever had - and yet it felt like our lives were still just starting. As I slowly approach 30, I begin to hear people jokingly tell me I must feel old - but the reality... I already feel so, so old. I feel like every day I have lived longer than she has, has been borrowed time - that it could - and will - just run out on any given day. That any moment, a satellite will fall on me when I'm out walking, or perhaps the ground under my feet will give way - maybe even to a super-volcano - these absurd eventualities feel as possible as what happened to Kinga (Case in point... We are living in the middle of a global pandemic - truly anything is possible). That feeling has been so, so prevalent for me; and has made existence seem so futile. When every day feels like borrowed time - when death becomes an expectation, how do you make peace with that? How do you rebuild a life, when it feels like you are laying the foundations of it on quicksand? Why create any new life for yourself, that can be lost in an instant?

One of our last pictures together - our 9 year anniversary trip to Tenerife. She had allllll the cocktails...!

There isn't really an answer to these things, I think. I have come to contextualise these questions over time less as barriers; and more as just myself having a greater understanding of the fragile nature of life. Over time, they have made me more appreciative of my past; and of the things that I have left in my present. But even being able to accept a present existence doesn't make the idea of a future any easier to swallow - because it is not the future we had planned by any stretch of the imagination. The future went from being familiar - full of years of  carefully laid plans and goals - to complete uncertainty, resembling none of that. Even when you begin to accept that you are in fact, still alive, you are still trapped in the middle of an ocean, on a small, rudderless boat... A boat that you constantly need to bail water out of, just to stay afloat.

The future is an illusion, in reality. You can never live in the future - but we all try and plan for it, on some level. For myself, I don't yet know yet what it will look like - beyond the impending court case, of course -  but time has allowed me to begin to accept that it can still exist - and if that it does exist, it is because of Kinga, not in spite of her. I will never 'move on' from her - she is at the heart of all of my actions. I will carry everything I have learned and gained from her with me until I die (whether that is in five minutes, or 70 years). I think that is one of the great misunderstandings about grief - that you have to choose between embracing your past, and trying to have a future. I choose both - and no one person can make me decide otherwise.


It is still hard to imagine a 'happy' future - but I think just accepting that it exists is enough for now. Despite how this post may read - I do genuinely believe that there is some hope - for all of us. In writing this,  I hope not to depress anyone - more to simply recognise the struggles of rebuilding a life after overwhelming trauma. The more we talk about these things... The more we learn. The more we can understand, and support each other.

Thank you, as always, to all who continue reading here. This was quite a difficult post to write - and wound up touching on some darker places than I intended it to. People have really responded to my grief writing lately - ever since the 'Year in Grief' post, really - and it has bolstered my confidence in continuing to talk about it. Grief truly is the loneliest place - and if anything I write can help make someone feel less alone - even for five minutes - or help someone grief adjacent better understand it - then it has been worth the effort. It certainly benefits me in getting these cloudy, complicated thoughts out here - helping me to navigate the tangled mass of webbing that is grief... And I know she would approve of that.

Here's to 11 years Cub. 'Til the end of time, eh? Whatever may come.

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