2 Years Later: how grief has changed me

2020 has been such a rollercoaster ride, and it's only been 2 months. The Year of the Rat is not supposed to be a good year for my zodiac sign, but at this rate it doesn't seem like to be a good year for anyone. Thank you, coronavirus. ðŸ™„

While I've been preoccupied by the effects coronavirus has been bringing to my work and life, however (note: you do not have to get coronavirus to be affected by it), I do still remember that March marks an important date.

One of these days in March is the 2nd year anniversary of the death of a close loved one for me. My March 2 years ago was a whirlwind of sleepless nights, hospital visits, maddening people who thought they knew better and made baseless assumptions, lack of appetite and sleep, and emotions all over the place.

March is a month associated with birth and life - spring.



To me, however, March will always be tinted with the memories of death.

As this month approaches again, it's hard to not get a little melancholic, to not feel the waves of grief I used to feel. 2 years on, however, these waves do not attempt to drown me. The rawness of grief has worn away. These waves merely soak my feet and remind me of their existence every once in a while now.

I have read that the loss of a close loved one can be so wildly distressing that you can gain Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from it. Burning hot molten anger like lava running down a volcano, wild storms of anguish and intense pain lashing away, and tidal waves of aching - I have felt them all in the two years since.

I would like to think that time has been the great healer for me. I certainly have been doing much better than I have back then, or even just a year ago. I'd like to be just that bit proud of myself for having come so far on my own. I could not have done it without the help of good people, of course. Thank you.

With that being said, there is no way that an event of that magnitude has not changed me and my life.

Most obviously, perhaps, March reminds me that one of the few people in this world who would love me unconditionally is no longer here.

The older I get, the more I see people come in and out of my life. Depending on the person who leaves my life, my heart may hurt a bit, my head may wonder a bit, or I will think "good riddance" for a bit, but after a while their absence does not affect me anymore.

Now. The loss of someone who would have been there in your life, no matter what (until death, clearly)? That loss hits you like a baseball hurtling towards your stomach at full speed, again and again. The ball may slow down over time, but it will still hurt, much like how a stubbed toe or a papercut still hurts.

I'd like to say that grief and knowing that life is short made me strive to be a better human being, but I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint everyone on that matter. I think grief has given me even more apathy than I used to have before.

To be more precise, I now care even less about things that I am not interested in. I care less about what other people think about what I should or shouldn't do,  should or shouldn't say, should or shouldn't wear.

Guys, we're all going to be dead in 100 years or less. Let me live.

I also care less about things I used to mildly care about. I used to consume articles after articles on news sites. I would read comments and get angry about racist, misogynistic, and just plain stupid comments. I would post them to my social media and rant about The State of the World in general, but now?

I do still consume media because I think it is my responsibility to be informed about the world, but I honestly can't say I feel much about anything that is reported.

I have come to feel that I am unable to change the world by ranting about things, or even just discussing them in general (unless I'm just looking for a topic to talk about, then knowing world events is pretty handy). People's minds don't just change. They seek media that suits their bias, just like I seek the ones that suit mine.

There is really and truly one way that really changes the world, and sharing about it in one or two posts isn't that. I've basically ranted about cat-calling for years now, and do men still cat-call? Uh, ya. HOW do we change the world, though? I'll talk about that later on.

In addition to more apathy, loss has also gotten me to constantly think about death. To be precise, I spend my days thinking, "do I really want to spend the rest of my life like this when I WILL BE DEAD one day?". Grief has really brought the morbidity out of me. You ever pondered about your own funeral in great detail? Fun, I tell you.

Over the past year, I've done some small things that were out-of-character for me, fueled by that thought itself. I've treated myself to expensive good food when I wanted to, took myself on holidays when I wanted to, stayed at nice places when I wanted to, and had a general sense of 'TREAT YO'SELF' and did so when I wanted to.

With that being said, it's not like grief has made me go all out, in the ways people turn to alcohol or drugs to numb them to the pain. By all accounts I still am a boringly responsible person, because grief has also highly alerted me to one thing.

Money does buy happiness.

Surprise!

There are people who have brushes with death and think that money is not important in the grand scheme of things. They are right - money shouldn't mean anything, and it shouldn't be your sole reason for living. There are other things that are way more important in life.

You know what HAVING MONEY can give you, though?

Comfort and peace of mind.

One will find that having both is a Pretty Big Deal in life, and even more so when death beckons. Both are what money can bring you.

I have sat in a hospital room meant for one person for hours, for days, watching life slip away. A one-person hospital room cost 4-5 times as much as a 4-person hospital room, but the money also buys you the solitude and time you need to come to terms with the beckoning of the Grim Reaper for a closed loved one.

Hospital visiting hours also diminish in a one-person bedroom, buying you more time to spend with your loved one, because you are not disturbing other patients.

Money buys you a private hospital, where you do not have to wait excrutiatingly long hours with many other sick people just to see one doctor. Even if you do have to wait, you wait in comfort.

I now have the mindset that I should treat myself to things, but also to treat myself to things responsibly. Comfort and peace of mind are worth more than treating myself. If I want to spend more, I spend more on a budget. The only way I can increase that budget is to earn more, and I have tried to do so.

In the past year, I have worked almost every day - even on the weekends. I schedule time off for holidays, but when I don't, I'm working, billing people for the hours I work.

It's nice to be comfortable.

It's nice to treat myself to "expensive" treats once in a while, and know that I can afford them.

It's also nice to donate money to causes I believe in.

That's right. This is the only way you really make a difference for a cause. You donate money to it. Sure, you can talk about it and bring attention to it, but ultimately, all that talk is for nothing if you don't channel it somewhere correctly.

Right now my thing is finding non-profits and causes that I feel strongly about, and just donating money to it to make sure they can survive. My causes of choice - animal adoption, environmental protection, and storytelling - receive my money on a monthly basis, to be able to tell THEIR stories and do the necessary work and hammer home to importance of animal welfare, healthy environments, and just supporting the creative arts in general.

Financial stability has become even more of a big deal to me in the past couple of years, and I will strive hard to achieve it. It's not riches and stacks of money I'm after, but a certain quality of life that I can only have if I have financial stability. I also want to actually "change" the world, and not pay lip service to it.

Anyone needs a freelance writer and willing to pay at least the standard rate? I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Ahem.

Finally, I'd say that grief has changed me to having a less glossy view about other people - and to have a harder and steelier temper as well. Now, when I am faced with someone impossible (and in my industry there's always someone impossible...), I just think to myself that I can't believe that they're acting like that when they'd be just skeletons or piles of dust in less than 100 years too. Then I set forth to "upset" them by pointing out facts, and not care anymore if I actually upset them.

Yes. I might be a little obsessed about the whole 100 years or less thing. Morbidity, you know. Also, somehow, it helps to cope with people and their idiocy when I think about how we'd all be dead in 100 years or less...

The above traits aside, what grief and loss has taught me is that I should put up with less crap than I used to before (you know, since we'll all di... yes ok I'll stop), and I now know that I'm much stronger mentally than I ever thought I was.

I'd like to think that I've taken the obstacle of loss and grief and gotten over it to run much more ahead in the marathon line of life. I might be slower than other people, and there might be more obstacles on my path than the lanes of others, but hey, at least I'm moving forward.

Since I can't go back in time, and there was a period of time in which I've stopped moving, being able to move forward is all I can ask for right now.

Maybe someday, I'll even start running again, but just moving is still pretty good to me.

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