The Weight of Grief
I’ve been trying to put this article into words for weeks.
Since the day in May when I held my beloved kitty cat in my arms as the vet gave her a shot to help her move from this earthly life into whatever lies next.
I expected letting her go to be difficult. I expected the grief and the heartache of saying goodbye and accepting the change in our relationship.
What I didn’t expect was to hold her body as her kitty spirit left and be instantly back in the moments and memories of holding my daughter’s tiny, still, and dead body. Memories of the utter joy of being her mother and holding her body close entwined with the raging grief of knowing these moments would be the only ones I would ever have with her in physical form. I didn’t expect to hold my fuzzy kitty cat and be back in that sensation and experience of cradling my precious baby.
I was reminded that this phrase came about for a reason. Because it’s true. Dead bodies have weight.
A live being – human or animal – has a lightness about them. We have weight but it’s a different weight. The living have an energy that has a certain lightness to it. But once that life energy leaves a body, there’s a density, a heaviness – a dead weight added to it.
Holding my daughter’s dead body was both the most joyful and the most painful experience of my life. Holding my cat as she left this world brought that experience back with utter clarity.
Death gives a density and a heaviness to our physical bodies.
Grief has a weight to it as well. It gives a weight, a heaviness to our emotional being. A weight laid on a heart that will always bear the scars and stitches of having loved so deeply and lost someone so beloved.
I think we notice the weight more in the beginning, when the grief is fresh and new in our broken and battered hearts. Over time, at least for me, I’ve stopped noticing that weight as much. I don’t think about it as often or feel the heaviness of it as fully as I once did. It’s just normal now.
There was a time when I cursed this weight, this grief that has so violently changed the landscape of my life and my heart.
But, honestly, until that day in May when I said goodbye to my sweet kitty, I hadn’t given that weight of grief and loss much conscious thought in a while. It is simply part of me, part of the person I am now.
Somewhere along the way on this journey of grief and life after loss, I stopped (mostly) cursing the extra weight I carry for the loss of those I love so deeply.
It’s like those moments of holding my daughter’s body – a bittersweet blend of joy and utter sorrow. Joy because that weight means that she lived and was so completely loved and sorrow because that weight also means she is gone and I will never know her the way I want to.
There is weight to grief because life and love matters. Those we love matter, however long or short their time with us might have been. We carry that weight because love matters and because we love, we grieve.
There is a weight to grief.
And while many days I have and probably will again curse it, I am also grateful to carry it.
I carry it because I loved.
I carry it because they lived. All those I have loved so deeply.
I carry it because it matters. They matter. Love matters.
When we die, our physical bodies become heavy. When we grieve, our hearts carry that weight of love and loss.
But it’s not dead weight.
It’s life weight. It’s love weight.
It’s those we love, carried with us until the day we lay our own bodies down.