“The gates of Hell are terrible to behold, are they not?”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly,
I don’t remember much about the days and weeks following my Love’s death on 26 June 2019. I remember only bits and pieces. My heart was broken wide open. I was shattered into a million pieces, felt like less than half a person.
I remember the phone call. Calling my friend to meet me at the hospital. Crying. Sitting in the hospital room with his body for hours just wondering if it was real. Crying. Making phone calls to family. Crying. Bits and pieces of going to the funeral home. Crying. Family and friends coming in. Crying. Feeling lost. Crying. Parts of the funeral and Shiva. Crying. Wanting to curl up in a ball and never wake up. Crying.
I remember parts of the week after the funeral. Still crying. Feeling smothered. Crying. Feeling like breath just wouldn’t come. Crying. Couldn’t sleep. Crying. Not hungry. Crying. Crying. I didn’t know a human being could cry so much and for so long.
I remember lashing out at those who were trying to help me. For that I am deeply sorry. I was numb. lost. hurting. shattered. I couldn’t stand to be around people. I couldn’t bear to be alone. I was a train wreck.
I tried to act normal. Whatever normal could have been. But in reality I was alive and my Love was not.
I was rattling the gates of hell. I felt the fire, the heat, smelled the acridity. I heard tormented screaming and realized it was coming from my head. I wanted to die. My own personal hell.
I remember going back to work, trying to hold it together so I could get back home and crawl into bed. Trying not to fall apart when my patients or anyone else asked how my husband was doing.
Then I started writing. On 8 July I wrote what is now the first “Why I Write”. I had to do something to move the debilitating pain from inside to out. My usual go-to suck it up and move on would have destroyed me sooner rather than later.
The point of revisiting this is, that while grief is different for each individual, everyone who has lived through the death of a loved one has felt most, all, or more pain than I did. Grief is universal.
Rattling the gates of hell in anguish
That person you’re talking to may be in their own personal hell, or reliving the time when they were.