You are here
Home > Challenges > What do we live for? – Grief and chronic illness

What do we live for? – Grief and chronic illness

Someone said that grief is more or less when you have love to give to someone but they’re not there to receive it.

I had tried preparing for it as best as I could, after all, my Mama Claire had defied the odds so many times. So many times doctors in America and Trinidad said ‘this is it,’ ‘prepare yourselves.’ 

She had said, like my other grandparents often say, that she hoped to see me before departing this life. She didn’t think God would take her before she had a chance to see me, she said.

I knew there was a chance I mightn’t make it across the oceans in time. So just to be safe anytime she was nearing the end I told her not to worry, I would see her again.

Above all, grief gave me a heartache so immense it made my insides a little more hollow, and returned me to that age-old question, ‘what do we live for?’ Click To Tweet

I felt strange when the news came on Boxing Day night. The world felt strange. Like something was missing, or a part of me was missing, like she’d taken a bit of me with her.

I didn’t want a new year to begin. Because 2018 would be the last year Mama Claire was here.

The effects of grief

Grief hit me in waves, and among other things caused my ‘fibromyalgia scales’ to break. It brought exacerbated insomnia, a flare of back/neck pain so severe the only way I could get out of bed was by rolling /crawling; migraines that made my head feel like a time-bomb, sore wrists and throbbing muscles, crippling anxiety and heightened disassociation that made me feel getting out of bed wasn’t even worth it for a week.

Above all, grief gave me a heartache so immense it made my insides a little more hollow, and returned me to that age-old question, ‘what do we live for?’

It was not easy returning to the world I’d twice tried escaping. But love kept me going. Click To Tweet

We are often wrecked by a lack of love, and saved by the gift of it.

When I’d almost succeeded in ending my life, Mama Claire’s love lifted me up. Across the oceans, still in the depths of despair I felt my paternal grandmother’s love.

It was beautiful, non judgmental and enduring.

It was not easy returning to the world I’d twice tried escaping. But love kept me going.

Mama Claire’s recent departure left a vacancy, as it goes when we lose those we love.

More than dust

What do we live for?… It isn’t about our judgements, false notions, how we cage each other, hurt each other or glorify ourselves. It is about love. Love is all. Click To Tweet

I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t find words to write or talk or energy to shift out of bed to mindfully cook.  But music has given me some solace.

Brooke Fraser’s Hosea’s Wife has been on replay.

‘We are more than dust
That means something
That means something
We are more than just
Blood and emotions

Inklings and notions
Atoms on oceans

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using people like ladders and words like knives’

I don’t know why this song. Why of everything in my music library, this album. Maybe because Brooke sings about the things my heart seeks. Her soothing voice said more than the sung words. We are indeed more than dust, more than what we own, we are so so much more, and that means something.

What is all this pain for? What do we live for?

I don’t have the answers and I don’t even know if any of this makes sense but I know what it isn’t about. It isn’t about our judgements, false notions, how we cage each other, hurt each other or glorify ourselves.

It is about love. Love is all.

And I am glad, and grateful to love and to have been loved by Mama Claire in this fleeting life.

Rest in peace and until we meet again Mama Claire.

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go – Uma Girish

Cover photo byGreg Rakozy


Read more: The magic of self believing and self-definition

potofcallaloo
Alisha Nurse is a curry-loving writer & comms professional who holds a Master of Arts Degree in Journalism (International) from the University of Westminster, London. Get in touch with any feedback or questions via the contact form in the 'About' section.

6 thoughts on “What do we live for? – Grief and chronic illness

  1. I am so, so sorry. When I was growing up, my grandmother’s house was my safe place to which I could escape from the chaos of my own home. I know what it was like for me to lose her in 2001. I can only imagine what you must be experiencing now. Sending love and gentle hugs to you…

    1. Awww Deb. I’m so sorry to hear too. But thank you for sharing with me, because it is the same with my grandparents too being a safe space. (Maternal ones still here and they played a different but important role from Mama Claire whose role was also special). Grandparents are so precious. Please tell me how are you Deb? Your words are always a comfort. Love and hugs x

  2. I’m so sorry, not just about losing the grandmother you clearly deeply loved, but the depths of heartache it took you to. You’ve covered it painfully well with how “grief gave me a heartache so immense it made my insides a little more hollow”. Times like that really do bring the question of what we live for to the forefront. Keep swimming back to the surface, hang in there, the world needs you in it. You owe it to yourself to make the most of your life, as best you can, and I’m sure your Mama Claire would have wanted that for you too. Sending gentle hugs xxxx

    1. Hi Caz, thank you so much for taking time to send me such a beautiful and encouraging message. Your words are a comfort and I appreciate it. Thanks again. Hope you are well too friend. Gentle hugs xxx

Leave a Reply

Top
Facebook
Facebook
Instagram
Follow by Email
RSS