Can Nothing Feel Like Something?

The pass I’d given myself to wallow, read, sleep, and grieve, expired its “use by” date about a month ago.

“I’m sorry ma’am, that coupon isn’t valid anymore.”

Somehow things suddenly kicked into high gear a couple of weeks ago and my mind and body filled up the space and time I rent from the life library. I went back to the gym, put away my pile of “to read” books, started a new volunteer project, began cooking dinners, even made bread, and made headway with the  stuffpiles that inhabit every room in the house.

photo by Sarang

photo by Sarang

In other words, my life shifted into a new normal. At least I thought so.

Two nights ago, MSH said something completely innocent and ordinary, and with his words the doorknob to my emotional storeroom clicked.

The door opened.

The air changed not in a physical sense, but just as clearly as the temperature and smell in a house changes when a door gets left open in midwinter, I knew something was different.

Can nothing feel like something?

Yes. Without argument. Absolutely yes.

I felt the loss of my best friend as raw and new as January. Instantly.

That emotional door allowed an onslaught of emptiness and loss to escape. I could no more push it away than a person can shove the cold air back outside and slam the door on it. The cold inhabits the room. It takes time and effort to reheat the inside air.

Two days, almost three, and I’ve felt lost again, unable to force away limbo and hurt and sorrow.

It’s not like I’m constantly thinking about her. Not at all. It’s more like her absence inhabits me. How does an emptiness fill something? I have no idea. I just know that’s what it feels like.

There’s a mental numbness involved as well. I find myself not engaging in conversations, barely following the words, the back and forth of it. My body’s in the room, but my mind, my focus, simply isn’t anywhere.

Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki

Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki

What do I do about it?

I don’t know. Keep breathing. Keep moving. Do.

Or maybe I need to not do anything. Maybe I give myself over to the feeling of loss, all over again. Sit in my porch swing and stare, again. Cry randomly, again. Pray more than normal, again. Muster up energy to respond to texts and emails, again. Sleep way too much, again. Stand around aimlessly and unproductive, again.

I’m guessing this sensation will go away eventually. I’m expecting that writing about it, out loud, here, might help.

It might come back again, too. I think grief does these looping things. It’s not a linear, stage by stage processing of the loss, but a kind of wandering path of varying emotions or lack of them. Occasionally the paths cross, I wander on to a different one without even realizing I’ve changed direction.

Don’t get me wrong.

I don’t feel hopeless.

That isn’t it at all. I just feel lost. Lost. Lost. Lost. Or empty. Very empty. Very very empty. As if I’ve been poured out on the sand and absorbed.

Wow. That sounds horrible. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, but then it isn’t really great either.

I’m fine. Really.

It’s just…grief.

This thing:

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions.” ~Wikipedia

Sounds complicated.

Multifaceted response?


Ten dollar words to describe and define sadness, sorrow, emptiness, hurt, and the left-behind perspective.

It’s today’s normal for me. And apparently yesterday and the day before. Maybe tomorrow and the next. We’ll see. Like a lifeboat on the ocean I’ll just drift about and see where the current takes me.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best imitation of a normal person when I’m in public.

There’s this last thought, which I like because it feels hopeful, and it acknowledges that there’s a process in play that I can give myself over to.

“Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.” ~ Emily Dickinson

photo by Klaus D. Peter, Wiehl, Germany

photo by Klaus D. Peter, Wiehl, Germany

Categories: Death | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Can Nothing Feel Like Something?

  1. I am sorry for your loss. I love the expressions you chose to describe it, but I feel bad for you being brought to the point where you have those feelings. I hope time will help.


  2. Beautiful imagery, Kami. Poetically heart wrenching.


  3. I love that snippet from Emily Dickinson … beautiful.

    My experience with grief is that it is best to just dive on into it, to not resist it in any way. I’ve also found that when I’m really present with pain or grief, just accepting & aware, it almost immediately transforms in some way.

    Not sure how comfortable you are with this, but you might try communicating with your friend. My grandmother died a few years ago, and I have felt her with me before. It was quite beautiful. If you feel like you have potential awareness, then you could ask her to be with you, send you a sign, or something like that. I’m sure she’s keeping track of you & is aware of how you’re feeling & wants to help 🙂

    I have not sought out a medium, but I did meet one when I volunteered as a guinea pig for a, not sure of the technical term, but it was a pre-pilot for TV. She told me about my maternal grandparents and their support and concern for me on a daily basis. I had sensed both of them before, but what she told me was beyond what I knew & very comforting. So maybe that would be an option for you ❤


  4. Leann

    Grief has it’s ups and downs and takes years to really work itself out to the point you can just smile and remember all the good times. You will hit plateaus where you feel you’ve made it to a comfortable spot for a long time, and then something (like passing the Mothers’ Day cards at the store) will cause a huge wave of emotion and instant tears. My only advice is to roll with it. It’s normal and natural and something you have to go through to come out the other side. The pain, anger and frustration are part of the process of healing. Every time it happens brings you closer to getting through it. Every time makes you a little stronger. Before too long you’ll notice you can cry and actually feel better after, like you shared a moment with your friend. I think parts of the grieving process can feel like a celebration of your friendship and the love you shared as you let go and express that pain, anger, and whatever else you feel. Eventually, you feel purged of the awful pain of it all and are left with the love and appreciation for what you had. You feel the spirit of your friend (or loved one) with you and realize you still have that bond. There will be many moments, too, when you realize how blessed and lucky you were to have had such a close relationship, the loss of which is so painful. There are so many who never experience that. Oh… and don’t be surprised that your mind goes at times. After my mother died, there were things that happened or conversations I participated in that I don’t remember to this day. I mean, they are a total blank. I’ve learned since that this is a normal part of grieving because part of your mind (both consciously and unconsciously) will keep focusing on your grief without your even realizing it. So hang on. It’s a bumpy ride. But you’ll come through it and you’ll be fine.


  5. I’m sorry for your loss. Such a beautiful way to describe it xxx


  6. You express your feelings in a way that I can understand your deep sorrow. I hope your tomorrows slowly help you to heal


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