18 Years an Orphan, 1 Year a Griever

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Sometimes it feels as though my journey as a griever did not start the day my parents died, but only many years after that. Today I would like to open up about the reality of my grief journey, a reality I think many people go through without even being aware of it.

The days right after my parents died were bizarre. It almost felt as though I was living in an alternative reality and surviving on autopilot. The house was constantly full, people were constantly crying and my head was in a constant state of confusion. On the one hand, I knew that my parents had died, but on the other hand I was convinced that it was all just a bad dream. As people came and went, I remember desperately waiting for the nightmare to end.

The funeral felt weird. The two coffins were right in front of the church. I think it was some sort of double coffin. I’m not quite sure. I got the chance to see my parents’ bodies for the very last time. They looked so peaceful. I remember thinking to myself “were they really in an accident? Why do they look so good?” Perhaps they only looked good to me because my eyes saw what my mind wanted to see. It was the strangest feeling I had ever felt. I said goodbye that day. I said goodbye to both my parents and, unknowingly, to my grief.

See, after the funeral, life had to go. School, extramural activities, church, friends, sleep, food, hygiene, entertainment, etc. No matter how mundane it felt, my life had to go on. I had no choice but to go on. Go on to what? Go on to where? Go on with who? I was 10 years old and I had no clue as to what life without parents would be like. Would we go to an orphanage? Would we be adopted by strangers? Would we live with relatives? I had no clue.

Throughout my childhood, I focused on surviving as an “outsider”. I moved from house to house, and although I always lived with relatives, I felt like I did not belong. No one necessarily “made me” feel that way, but I just did. I guess I missed my parents and the family unit I had always known. Anything other than that felt foreign, even after many years. My focus was surviving that constant feeling of solitude. My focus was surviving that constant feeling of being uncomfortable in my own skin. Grief had no space in my mind; grief had no space in my heart.

When I started publishing my writing in 2012, I did not explicitly write about grief. I wrote about my journey as an orphan in the practical sense (living arrangements, financial difficulties, marginalisation…). I never truly addressed the emotions that were directly linked to my grief; emotions that had nothing to do with outside factors. Even in private, I did not acknowledge the existence of these emotions, not one bit.

I only truly started thinking about my grief about a year ago. I only started acknowledging my grief for grief in 2020; grief without the bla bla of everyday life and trials and tribulations. I guess what I’m trying to say is that for 17 years my grief was linked to external factors, and over the past year it has been about my “internal grief”. Does this make sense?

The title of this blog post is somewhat untrue in the sense that grief has always been a part of my orphanhood. It is, however, accurate in the sense that life somehow separated my grief from my orphanhood and forced me to deal with my orphanhood first without paying any attention to my grief. For me, orphanhood and grief are not one and the same. For years they were like fraternal twins separated at birth...

Stay positive and keep shining!

Peace & love, always...