Costs of Grief

I am migrating through a terrain that I’ve never walked. A murky, sometimes soul-bending, walk that with all my good planning I could not plan. I’ve struggled and I’ve laughed. I’ve prayed and I’ve gone to sparring.

It’s occurred to me a few times that much of this path is about grief–and not my own. There are many names for it. Attachment pain is a related one. Mourning. Stagnancy. Sorrow. These are synonyms for grief.

It makes sense and it’s unsurprising that the griever will pay their costs. But it’s terribly unsettling that grief has a way of charging everybody around. When you accompany a person through grief, even from a distance, it will cost you.

It doesn’t require your all but the unworked workings of others draws upon you. The grief of others who you’re in relationship to, even when that relationship has converted to the perfunctory, will cost you. You will pay emotionally and in other ways.

I’ve known of grief and its costs. You pay for the affection that seeps and spends and is, at some good point, finally absent. You pay for the moments of reckoning when you see little anniversaries come without the presence of the departed. You pay for not hearing your name in that person’s tone of voice again. You pay for a memory that grasps but doesn’t always capture. You pay for returning to the same old sacred spaces feeling new emptiness.

It’s like an expense that you can’t place perfectly on a budget, like a charge with its own deep subtraction but no place to categorize. You expect to be charged through the unwieldy experiences of anguish. Saying goodbye to someone. Feeling the rip that accompanies a transition.

The surprise to me is that these are not payments that are subject only the one who grieves but also to those that person is around. People I know will pay because of my pain. People I know will spend because of my sorrow. People I’m around will be taxed by my posture in relation to what’s gone.

There are costs to losses and not all of them are known. Some of the costs are unseen. Some of the costs are there but not yet known. So, it’s a surprise that’s dawning on me, an unknowing that I’m beginning to know better.

And I’m still frugal. I’m still upset to have to pay. I’m still struggling with this expensive terrain. Even as I look up and ahead to see the ending of a rocked path with sprouts of green and slices of yellow and all kinds of possible brightness.