I still grieve in private.
Maybe it’s because absence is unquantifiable in collective terms. There is no “we” to the way we experience others. Even in the situation of a group of close friends the way people relate to each other varies. This means that the absence of any single person will still be felt by the individuals in the group as a solitude – we live as a unit, we grieve on our own.
This analogy lends itself to death but, in a way, all grief is absence. We grieve loss and to lose is not to have what previously was had. And what was had, as an amorphous object, was experienced individually (experience is always subjective – the subject always experiencing – the subject always projecting itself onto an experience – the subject and the experience are one and the same).
“To live is to life” kind of territory is what I am trying to explore here.
And so when I say I still grieve in private, it is also to wonder what privacy and the performance of privacy is. Are my tears, locked behind closed doors any more private than a wailer, tearing their clothes as they walk down the street?
So instead of saying I still grieve in private perhaps I should say my grief is only known to myself and these four walls, staring down at the madness of repeated banging against a keyboard in search of an answer that I already have (the cheat sheet was hidden in bits somewhere between the lines of long forgotten poetry).
Which is to say that my audience is inanimate, unable to do anything to help me as I grieve, other than be present and know that grieving is happening. Kind of like the bystanders as they wonder whether they should gather the clothes that were torn in the process and cover lost modesty or if the loss of that modesty is a metaphor for a larger loss.
“Still” – a hat tip to the ever-changing nature of the streets we walk down and the clothes we tear. As the world moves, and the places we look at change, so our performances adapt to new stages. The first to post about, the contribution towards, the “forever” memes, the denials, the increased posting, the reduced posting, the ways we are seen and the ways we experience our exposure consistently shifts through time.
So maybe to say I still grieve in private is to seek solace in a fixed space in a changing universe. To call for my place amidst those who watched from the window as a wailer wandered down the streets and thought “if only I knew how”
If only I knew how.