Wearing Grief Like a Scarlet Letter

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.“  (Nathaniel Hawthorne) 


Ashamed. Misunderstood. That’s how grief often makes me feel.  

Alone. Angry.  Why can’t people let me be where I am with this unpredictable process? 

Frustrated. Insecure.  The progress is minimal, and the fallbacks are huge.  

Confused. Bewildered.  Are people really in this with me?  I can’t help but feel that most think I should have moved on by now.  Forward, maybe. But never on. 

Dismayed. Discouraged.  The hurts are so deep. Living day in and day out and walking on egg shells for everyone else, because my current state makes them uncomfortable.  It’s exhausting.  

I’m sorry (but actually I’m not).

I know exhaustion...

Hearing people nonchalantly ask you multiple times everyday in passing, how you are doing, but not waiting for the real answer...  How would you be doing?

Getting out of bed everyday and going to work...   There is no energy for this. 

Seeing blossoming pregnant mothers, or those with newborns in their arms, at any given moment...  Do they have to be everywhere at all times?

Pretending to be present and care about what other people have to say...  It’s not that your thoughts aren’t important, it’s just that my mind is thinking about one thing.

Defending myself...  How many times of the how many ways do I have to explain why I feel this way?

Sleepless nights and PTSD...  I wish I could say I was tired from nursing all night, instead of being consumed with sorrow, nightmares, and worry.

Constant triggers...  How can I prepare myself for what’s next?  What will literally be around the corner? 

I am.  An OUTCAST.  A spectacle.   

I wear grief like a scarlet letter.

GRIEF.  People don’t want to get close to it. People don’t want to ask about it.  They don’t want to acknowledge it. It’s a taboo topic. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable.  But when it is ignored, I often wonder how people feel when they walk away from me.  Did they feel good about that “conversation?”

But grief is a reality that needs to be honored.   And it’s my reality, as it is for many others.  And it’s apparently not going anywhere right now.  Grief has made itself a prominent presence within me and around me.  It hangs around my neck like a ball and chain.

However, I will not cover it up with a band aid.  I will not force a smile to make others feel better about themselves.  If someone actually takes the time to ask me a probing question, I will tell them how life really is, or I won’t say anything if they can’t handle it.  (Maybe they are just asking out of “courtesy.”)

Grief is ugly. And messy. And all over the place. It’s unpredictable.  And it definitely doesn’t lend oneself to a spirit of optimism.  It’s tormenting.  It’s unexplainable and unwanted.  

I didn’t want it either. But want or not, it is mine to own for the time being.

And I’m not asking anyone to take it from me.

Just to simply be with me.

And let me BE ME.  With where I am, for how ever long that may be...no questions asked. No judgements made. No advice given. Because, for me, wearing grief is like a scarlet letter, and I’m already feeling so alone and completely misunderstood.