What You May Not Know

By Emma Pearson

June 22, 2024

12 September 2019

Featured image is the Full moon through Melancholy, Geneva

If you could tell people something, tell them what is true, what is true about grief and love and loss, something they do not know, or can’t know, what would it be? If you could address them, what would be said? Part of Megan Devine’s Writing Your Grief Course

What you may not know
What you do not know
What you cannot even begin to imagine –
Unless you are among the initiated-into-deep grief – is that

I feel sick, sick, sickened to the
Depths of my belly
Almost all of the time

I wretch and heave silently
And breathe through
Pinched nostrils
And wretch and heave again
As I do my admin
And sort through receipts from
The “time before” and
The “time after”

As I brush my teeth
Have a shower
Dry my hair
As I swim lengths
Or cajole my body into
Some semblance of
A Yoga pose

As I do such mundane tasks as
As I walk through the house
Or stroke the pets
As I wait for sleep to
Please just fricking come

As I write yet another letter to
Yet another Authority
Informing them of the
Latest twist in the saga

As I press “delete” in my diary on
Current and future events that should have
Involved Julia
As I see Julia’s friends
Or go near her school
As I go past shops she liked
Or notice brands she loved
As I chance upon the many
Places she left
Pieces of herself in
In France
The UK
Or any place she even wanted to visit

As I see anyone Julia’s age
Or somewhere between her and Megan’s ages
Or indeed any age that she will never attain
Of which there are too many

And as I see new
Freshly minted babies
I heave and wretch as I wonder
What despairs they or their parents might yet face
One day
Though I hope not

As I learn of anyone else whose
Child is in a difficult spot
Eating Too Much or
Not Eating Enough
On medication

What you may not know is that
Grief Kills
Grief is a Murderer
Of love and life and
Hopes and dreams

What you don’t know is that
People die because of Grief
People die because of a Broken Heart
People Die by Suicide
Because their Grief is
Too Much to Bear

I had a call just last night from the
Now orphaned daughter of a friend
A widow
Whose husband was my friend and colleague
He had helped Mike get to
Chemo treatments on occasion when
I just couldn’t manage to fit it it all in

But my friend also died
Just months after Mike died
And my new friend
My friend’s wife
Missed him too much
And like Julia chose to end the
Desperately Painful Grief that had
Settled over her life and her being
Her present and future and
Even her past
Replacing the love she had once felt
And reveled in and rejoiced in

Not a fair reward for
Decades of love

What you do not know is that
Even when I am asleep, I feel bereft
Even when I am asleep, I am a widow
Even when I am asleep, I am a
Mother of two-not-three alive kids
Even when I am asleep, I KNOW that
Julia is DEAD and not coming back
Even when I am asleep I KNOW that
Mike is DEAD and not coming back

I feel their Absence
Every Moment of
Every Day and
Every Night

I feel their absence as an empty weight
A heavy, empty weight
An emptiness that weighs heavily
On my shoulders
In my heart
At the sides of my mouth and
Below my eyes and
Between my eyebrows
My mouth
Permanently pulled down at the corners

What you do not know is that
When I look at my tired, wan, make-up-less face, I say
“Wow chica – looking pretty good today!”
And I mean it
That’s my “good look” these
Days and months and years

They say, it is said, modern convention says that
“Grief is the price of deep love”
On a good day it feels like it was worth it – maybe
On a bad day, nothing is worth the pain

It should be written into relationship contracts
That “this deep Love will be replaced by deep Grief”
Grief should come with a “use up by end of” date
It should wear off
Peter out
Fade away
But it doesn’t

Grief is endless while you’re alive and breathing
The pain is bottomless, vast
It’s dark and scary and grey and misty and cool and chilly and damp

What you do not know is that
Grief erases the future
Transforms the past
And makes a tsunami of the present

What you do not know is that
Even though I love Medjool
Nothing in that new love compensates for Mike or Julia
Even though I love Medjool
And I really believe I do
As I feel great joy and delight and
Titillation and excitement and passion

Even though all of that
I feel the Grief through it
Seeping in
Settling down
Forever affecting my
New and precious love

What you do not know is that the
Origin of the words
Bereavement Bereave Bereft
Comes from the Old English
Meaning to
Deprive Of
Take Away


It happens to everyone
But you feel it

Shocking loss isn’t to be shared
Cannot be shared
Must not be shared!
The world would come to a standstill

Grief is endless
A life sentence
Because you dared to love

Jean Cocteau got it right when he said
“Le vrai tombeau des morts
C’est le Coeur des vivants”

* Italicised section about the origins of the word Bereaved comes from
“H is for Hawk”, by Janet Macdonald

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