On Grief



I’m grieving. I’m grieving the end of my relationship with Lanie, I’m grieving the end of a friendship that was so easily rekindled after a 30-year separation, and I am grieving the loss of a love that happened just as I began my second coming out. I am not okay, the grief permeates everything I do, it touches every thought I have. There’s no way to avoid this grief, it’s here for the duration, and the sooner that I gently accept its presence and invite it to accompany me on this emotional journey, the sooner I’ll heal.

I’ve been listening to the Calm Masterclass on Grief, which has been helpful. The only way I can process this separation is to pretend that Lanie is dead. She might as well be dead, but this framework isn’t an exact fit. It isn’t that she can’t talk to me, it’s that she won’t talk to me. I am both grieving and aggrieved, which is about as much fun as you think it is.

In the masterclass, the teacher, Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, asks us to describe our grief, to anthropomorphize it, give it form, colour and shape. My grief is heavy, grey, and massive. It lumbers along, graceful in its own way, but still painfully aware of how much space it takes up, even though it wishes it could be as small as possible.

My grief remembers everything, and will for its entire life. It remembers every wrong, sure; but it also remembers every loving look, every kindness, every transcendent moment that ever passed between us. My grief is mostly calm, but when it threatens to overtake me and crosses the boundary into anger it becomes dangerous, and potentially life-altering for anything that ha the misfortune of getting in the way.

Next, Doctor Jo asks invites the listener to think of love, which comes to me as a feeling of lightness. I feel buoyant, so carelessly tethered to the earth that I could easily defy gravity. But I also feel fragile, and I become very aware of how easily this beautiful, gossamer thing can be destroyed even though you’ve taken great care to keep it safe.

I couldn’t get these images out of my head, so I spent about an hour or so sketching this out in Procreate.

love is a gossamer thing - illustration by Cecily Walker. Illustration is a colored pencil illustration of an elephant with a heart-shaped balloon tied to its trunk.

It’s a bit too on the nose, I admit. But the whimsy suggests the hope that lives on inside me that this isn’t the end of our story, that one day, somehow, it may even be possible for us to rekindle our friendship given enough time, trust, and forgiveness.