Picture Credits: margaret-polinder

death, grief, loss, love, suicide, time

Young Grief

Gabriele Sidlauskaite, December 15, 2023

Kostas killed himself and I couldn’t even scream. The sound I made, choking on my horror, thick as syrup, came from some other throat, one that I didn’t know I had, or ever used. A sob, but a yell, but a whimper, but a wail, but a choke—   Grief is so unlike anything I’ve ever felt that it’s unclear to me still whether it’s an inner defect, some ancient part of me that awaited relief, or a bullet from the outside, a virus that latched on and did not let go until I was weak, decrepit, and changed. 

I don’t tell people my best friend “committed suicide” because it glosses over the contradiction of his character and death. Kostas killed himself; my friend – the victim, the killer. I have known him seven years, but I imagine him die more often than I remember him. Kostas sits in a car, alone, looking out onto a dark sea, feeling lonely enough to end it all. I wonder if he expected for someone to run in and save him last minute as if it’s an American film? Was he scared in the moment before he lost consciousness and realised no one was coming? I understand so little of the reasons behind his crime that I am afraid to remember him in case I discover I never knew my friend at all. His lonely death is, perversely, easier. 

I know loneliness — the change in the silence. The quiet goes from peaceful to suffocating as you cross to the other side of being alone; no longer simply on your own, but lonely now. Lonely is a type of alone that excludes you. Your heart beats, the blood pumps still, but you are no longer at its centre. It’s the absences in the room that flash in the dark and draw your body’s moths. Loneliness is a monster that feeds on your heart and connection seems a shadow only. Stay lonely long enough and you’ll feel the contours of your body fade until you’re nothing but a secret that no one gave away.

Grief is a lonesome virus that molds itself to each person’s body differently. Losing a mother is not the same as losing a friend, losing a lover. I want to beg my father for help. For my mother to swaddle me like a baby. But it feels like no one understands how I am. Even with people who grieve the same person as me, I do not think, arrogantly, destructively, that they understand me. They do not know my obsessive mind and I cannot read their thoughts, and the memories I had with my lost one, they do not share, so what is there to understand?

Grief is the uninhabited island, the uncharted waters your life vanishes into when a loved one dies. There is no crossing back as there is no more living outside of grief as the person you lost will not be found again.

My grief is mine. It’s the only piece of me I care to find. It’s the only part of myself I can touch and do not revolt. To mourn and to grieve is not the same. Mourning is short and shameless. To mourn is to give death an acquiescing nod, to wear black clothes, to cry and then get back to work. Grieving is nothing as bearable as mourning, yet you must bear it. Grief is the uninhabited island, the uncharted waters your life vanishes into when a loved one dies. There is no crossing back as there is no more living outside of grief as the person you lost will not be found again. It denies kinship, the only remedy that, while may not heal us, may allow moments to straighten our backs. It is the new life, yet you must act as if it’s some challenge you are itching to overcome and that you’re not just crawling on your stomach in circles.

Right after he died, I went through a period when I felt nothing for myself. I felt separate from my life and especially the life I was supposed to have. I didn’t want to harm myself; I just didn’t care if I was harmed. I would walk down the street and wish someone would mug me. I would wonder how it would feel if a car ran me over. The numbness makes grief so much worse, and long, because you don‘t just mourn the friend you lost but watch, idly, parts of yourself die. How to trust life when it has betrayed you? How to be hopeful and excited when you know the final betrayal is yet to come? But hope is beastly and unrelenting. Hope is a howl that escapes after you scratch your eyes out, the remaining chord. Despite everything, I am alive and here. The world exists, and is tangible. Time runs out, the love does not.

Gabriele Sidlauskaite

Gabriele Sidlauskaite

I am a London-based writer who is continuously trying to find the right words.

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