No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.
Last night... or maybe I should say 'this morning', I was lying in bed, wide awake, at 3.38am, just begging my body to give in and let me get some decent sleep. I had listened to a gentle podcast, a meditation app and some white noise/rain on YouTube but still couldn't get into that dreamless deep sleep that I crave so much.
My Dad died suddenly on the 4th December. Dealing with something like that is difficult at the best of times but during a pandemic... well, I still haven't wrapped my head around it and that's the reason I'm not sleeping. In fact, the only time I've slept for more than four hours at a time since then is after I've drunk copious amounts of wine and even I know that's not the best way to deal with this.
I try lying still but I hear my husband snoring and my ears ache from wearing ear plugs.
I move to the settee and lie under my weighted blanket but even if I nod off, I'm awake again a short while later because sleeping on the settee isn't the greatest place in the world.
I get up and try to read but my mind wanders off and I have to re-read the page again.
When Mum died back in 2004, it was a shock, but not unexpected. She had a debilitating illness and spent more time in hospital than she did at home. Because I was next of kin, I was busy for at least six months after, dealing with all the initial paperwork and arrangements, then working with the solicitors to put her house on the market. We also had to empty the house, going through every single item that she owned trying to decide whether to keep it, sell it, donate it or chuck it. And I was also moving house myself at the time. I found sorting through her personal effects - and all our family memories - very cathartic and it helped me to heal.
This time, there's nothing to do.
Dad remarried 20 years ago and his wife has dealt with all the "stuff". Due to Tier regulations and lockdown requirements, I haven't even been able to go down and help in any way. Nor have I been able to revisit the churchyard where he is buried or do anything that I might have recommended to anyone else to help this feeling of emptiness.
Grief is a strange emotion. It hits you in waves and you can't control it; the on/off switch is broken. At least if I could sleep then that's a few less hours where I have time in my own head.
The full quote at the top of this page is by CS Lewis and is from "A Grief Observed":
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty.