Grief Is An Unspoken Name
How grief works within the creative process of writing.
Words by Whiteboard Journal
If you are reading this, you have probably lost something important once. So much of our stories began with loss –– of our values, our loved ones, our objects of remembrance, ourselves, our world that was never ours to begin with, but a momentary space that we pass through, in search for a destination. The modern world has taught us that everything is replaceable. If you lose your phone, you can buy another one. If you lose your job, you can search for another one. If you lose a friend, you find another one. Then, there are the other things, the unidentifiable things that tether us to our identity, but will eventually, in time, disappear? Perhaps this is why we search for ways to understand this loss by examining it and relearning it, in the hopes that one day it will transform into something greater than ourselves –– perhaps with our very hands. Grief is an unspoken name that we carry we us for the longest of time, and this is why we write, not to find what is gone, but to honour it.
Several years ago, someone I love began to disappear. We had lived with her for several years when I was a child, and it was in her house that I learnt how to love. She, a landscape artist, a former socialite, a mother, a wife, a sister, a grandmother, a woman, a person of the world. It was in her grand white house that she taught me how to examine the earth, how to understand the qualities of living beings, how to use our hands for good, how to wait, because when the trees have sprouted leaves and the flowers have blossomed, we will create tenderness in our own corner of the world.
She is still around now, parts of her, depending on the day. Sometimes, I appear to her as the person I am now, an adult, a writer, a person that she has crafted with her warm hands, and we talk about literature, flowers, Amsterdam, spirits, perfumes. Sometimes, she forgets my name, and I hold her hand, and only will she remember me, and tell me she loves me, and I know that at that moment, in her mind, I am still 12 years old. Sometimes, she exists between the past and the present, and I do not know whether I have to return with her, or guide her to where we are now –– almost 14 years later where the world we used to live in has become ancient and forgotten.
As readers, we learn to look closely between the lines, because this is where loss exists, not within the words but in the spaces where something used to exist. The person who placed their hand on your shoulder every morning, the tree that you used to climb in your childhood garden, the belief you once held that everything will sort itself out if you only kept moving, the parts of yourself that was clear and present –– all of these exist in a space that we feel that we cannot reach. There will come a time when all of us will inhabit this space, this beautiful, unknown space that comes in many forms and textures, and there will come a time when those who are left will wonder, as we are now, what to do next while we wait for our time. But the space is here, between your words, your thoughts, your dreams, between these very words you are reading –– it has always been here, close, present, alive. Grief is an unspoken name we carry we us for the longest of time, and this is why we live, not to find what is gone, but to honour it.