The Management of Grief


The above is an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black, had just died. Quite understandably, Harry goes into an emotional spiral and through the stages of grief.

I didn’t truly know what that kind of grief felt like until last year when my grandfather died. It was July 31st, which is ironically Harry Potter’s birthday. I, too, went through the stages of grief like Harry did and like everybody else has done. I was in shock – I actually went into shock (I remember shivering under a blanket and struggling to breathe), I was in denial, I was confused, I was angry, I tried to bargain, and I sobbed and howled in despair. I remember thinking about the above scene when I went through this, as well as another scene where Harry isolated himself from everyone and wished that the world would lose its colour so that everyone and everything would match what was going on inside him. He wanted to project his inner turmoil onto the world so that others would understand.

I felt the same way.

The sun was too bright, food was unnecessary, and nothing else mattered.

There were only two things that helped me get out of that: time, and people. The death of a loved one is the number one stressful, emotional, and life-altering event that we experience. But life goes on for us. At the same time, it’s unfair and helpful. You need to force yourself back into the daily routine. It gets you out of your head and interacting with others. Talking to other people is a normal part of life, and although it’s painful for you to share with others this death, it certainly helps, too. People empathize, they show compassion, they give you space, and they just get it. This kind of things affects everyone, and so there is no judgment or condescension. Why would there be? We all suffer, and we don’t want to make it worse for anyone.

It took me somewhere between a week and, well, now, to accept my grandfather’s death and be at peace knowing that he is at peace. I’ve still cried about it every now and then, but it’s become a part of me like confessing to my fifth-grade crush. Both have caused emotional scarring, but now they are not at the centre of my life. They have shaped me, but they do not define me.

Everybody has scars. We can hide them, present them, heal them, and accept them. Probably all four at some point, too. I just hope that we don’t become too busy, tending to our own scars, that we ignore everybody else’s.