What We Mean When We Talk About Grief

Marla Rose
5 min readAug 5, 2022

I am one of those people who keeps a paper calendar on the wall near my desk. I’m not so old school that I don’t also keep electronic reminders of upcoming meetings and important dates, but I have never quite been able to kick the habit of having an actual calendar I can write on and look at as well. I just turn my head from my desk and it is to my right, hanging from a small nail in the wall. There is nothing like writing down a date to imprint it in my overloaded brain and I always look forward to flipping to a new month on the first and the feeling of a fresh start. This year, there was a tear in the hole of the page for July. The new month kept flipping down back to June, so I just left it there. All month from my desk, I glanced over at the daisies of June instead of the bluebonnets of July. It was for the best. I could have taped it closed so July could have faced me but I couldn’t face it.

It is a rough month for me, I guess you have gathered.

“It” totally makes sense as a Stephen King monster. Referring to a date as “it” kind of tells you everything how inching up to July 31 feels to me. Starting the last week of June, I begin bracing for it. Objectively, the “it” of July is less scary than a sewer-dwelling clown who’s out for blood but, as opposed to what King conjured, my it is real and I am at the whims of its dark turns nonetheless.

I lost Romeo on July 31, and it was a loss that was unexpected, sudden, violent and horrific. It happened after almost two years of stress and overwhelm following my husband’s leukemia diagnosis and bone marrow transplant. We had finally started to get to the other side of the challenges of healing from such a major health event when Romeo was taken from us on an otherwise ordinary Friday night, July 31, 2020. As such, now July signals a month when the waves of grief often rush over me suddenly, though the waters are always at least up to my calves. It is a month of an unsettled, heavy, slowly shifting feeling in my chest, a buzzing anxiety that is at a near-constant thrum, a palpable sense that guilt and regret are wrapping around me head-to-toe like a cobra.

Light stuff, I know.

July has been a bittersweet time for me as it is for as long as I can remember; seeing the back-to-school promotions popping up intrudes…

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