Grief is like Pong played in reverse

Grief is like Pong played in reverse
Photo by Nadine Shaabana / Unsplash

When something really bad happens to you, one of the few silver linings is that you gain a new perspective and can use this to help other people understand your rare experience.

Grief is one of those things that’s hard for people to understand; most people see how I’m doing on any given day and assume that’s a “sample” of how I’m doing. “You seem like you‘re doing okay,” and “I don’t understand how you’re handling this so well” are the kinds of things people say.

I mean I guess there’s some world in which I became suicidal or an alcoholic or, I dunno, started wearing all black and started playing depressing music all the time. But that’s not this world, thankfully. My point is there’s this expectation that since the approximately worst possible thing that can happen to a parent happened to me, I should be totally destroyed. And yet. I’m not visibly performing “being destroyed.”

There’s two reasons for this. The first is that life just goes on, there are still bills to pay and children to feed (including Nikolas), and you can’t sit around all day and mope if you want to keep your family together.

The second reason is that grief is not an on or off thing. It’s actually pretty weird. Grief is like Pong played in reverse.

In Pong, you bounce a ball around the four sides of the screen, and the ball speeds up as the game goes on.

Imagine grief is the ball. Every time it hits the wall, you get hit with the full emotional force of the tragedy, but over time, the ball slows down. Each impact hits will the same force, but it gradually happens less and less often.

On the first day it is hammering you every minute of every day. The next week it hits you once an hour. A month later it’s a few times a day. And six months later it’s once a week. One day, it will be months or even years since you last felt the pain, but when it does hit, it hits with full power, same as always.

The pain doesn’t get any easier, it just gets more spaced out. And you find a way to keep living in the meantime.