My sister recounted my mother’s sadness, how she burst into tears when it was time for my sister to leave. My sister held her for a few minutes to comfort her and left anyway.
To what extent are we responsible for alleviating another’s sadness, particularly if the source of our grief is the same? Do we defer to one over the other? Is there a hierarchy of grief? Does partner trump parent?
The problem with collective grief without counsel is its cumulative effect. Grief with no outlet, runoff, or resolution, swallows us up.
As such, I find it almost unbearable to be around someone whose sorrow is greater than my own right now. It is both weighty and suffocating.
And so, I want nothing more than to turn away from the cavernous depths of that despair, to shed the role of caregiver for a while so that I can open another door, one that leads to a room with a chair in the middle of it, waiting now for six months, the seat of my own despondency.
If only I could sit there for as long as it takes to find my own way back to the light.