Grief Demands an Answer

"Grief demands an answer, but sometimes there isn't one." I was watching House of Cards when a character said those words. It was Friday night, February 14th. The new season of the show released that day, and I had decided to enjoy my VD--uh, Valentine's Day--by marathoning some of Frank Underwood's devious dealings with a French press of Dominican coffee, chocolate chip cookies, and a pint of Ben and Jerry's Half Baked. Living on the edge.

Grief demands an answer.

The words made me pause; they landed not too far from some truth in my life. Not because it was Valentine's Day, and there I was by myself. Ironically, despite the saturation of red-themed everything or the flood of romantic tributes on social media, I've felt no ill will toward the holiday at any point. It doesn't matter to me what the origin of the day is or how commercialized or overplayed it is--I like it. I like what it can mean and can be for people who make the most of the opportunities it presents to love each other.

Even if I have little to no role to play in it these days.

99% of the time, I walk around in a pretty good mood for your average guy. But there have been moments, flashes, in which my jaw tightens. I may have been in the middle of humming to some happy tune, or reading an article about people going to live on Mars, and suddenly, grief is there with me.

It wants to know why. Always why. Not how. I know how; I've studied it. I have a phd in how. Grief grips me, desperate and confused, and demands its answers.

Sometimes I entertain grief. I wonder aloud with it. I draft up long, complicated conspiracy theories, and everyone is a suspect. I concoct interpretations that would take Peter Jackson more than a trilogy to tell on film. I write epic tales that skip with a scarecrow, tin man, and lion down the road to a happy ending.

No matter how fanciful or rational an explanation I develop, no matter how scared I am or how hopeful I am of the real answer, I always sober up and face this reality:

Grief demands an answer, but sometimes there isn't one.

Or, at least, there's no way of knowing for sure.

How do you satisfy the burning queries of grief, then? How do you learn to walk after loss cripples you? How do you get back what was stolen from you? How do your eyes adjust to the light after you've been held captive in a dark cell for years?

For me, three things:




Sometimes one feels more important than the other. Sometimes I hate one or all three. But I need them all. More importantly, there are no easy answers found there.

They may not be enough to keep grief at bay once and for all, but they are enough, for now.