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  • Ginger Pennington

The Worst Thing About Grief

The worst thing about grief is not the pain that seizes you like hands around the throat while at the grocery store, or in the car, or holding hands with your toddlers on a public sidewalk.


The worst thing is not the tears that are drawn ceaselessly from a bottomless well deep in your sloshing guts. Those are cleansing.


The worst thing is not your cranking mind that prevents you falling asleep because it is busy trying to process this loss---a loss that your heart already understood a month ago.



The worst thing about grief is the isolation it creates in the grieving. I understand why Victorians wore mourning clothes, because then at least others could look at you and know it's not a good time to bother you. My heart feels like a broken vase full of dead flowers, but I look great, and people treat me accordingly. And since there's no good time to bring up grief among those who aren't grieving (our culture can't even handle the word died when used in a serious context), I am forced inside this invisible bell jar, looking out at the muffled world through thick glass.


And the world goes on, asking things of me. I have deadlines, so I can't stay in bed and get the sleep I need. I have classes to go to, so I have to drag my lifeless body into the shower. I have a basket full of laundry covered in vomit, because I, alone with two toddlers this weekend, joined them in having a stomach virus. So I have to go to the laundromat. On the way home from the laundromat, I hear a sad country song and start crying again. "Shouldn't you be over it by now?" I will be over it when I'm over it. And until then, I have an audition, so I'm styling my hair and sweeping mascara over my wet eyelashes. When I get to Hollywood, I'll smile and chat with the casting directors, and it won't be about how much I miss my dad.

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© 2019 by Ginger Pennington