Writing when we cannot speak

In July of this year, my grandmother died. It was an emotionally draining time for my family and I know I took the news roughly. At the time, I wasn’t able to talk about my grandmother and I had a hard time expressing myself to my friends. I wrote the following piece then, and with some minor edits, I’d like to share it now.

 Thank you for reading,

Editor Joe.

My grandmother is dead. It is so fucking easy to write those words but I haven’t said it out loud yet.

She was in her late eighties, diabetic, received dialysis treatment three times a week and late last month she fell and broke a rib. She had fallen again because she was too stubborn, too independent, to wait for someone to help her walk from my dad’s car to the front door. This fall ended in a broken leg and a trip to the hospital.

I could lie and say that when my dad called me at five in the afternoon I was surprised but I knew. He only ever wants to talk about the weather and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. He said “let’s put it this way, she’s no longer with us.”

Like Grandma decided to denounce the family name and was running off to Paris with a secret lover.

As writers, we use words to tell stories, make jokes. But we also use them as weapons and shields. And as crutches. We know how to say that one phrase that will haunt another person for years and we know how to lie to ourselves. We know that words written on a page are real but can be distant from us. That sometimes words are only words.

It’s a poem but unless someone reads it, it’s just another scrap of paper. Writing is supposed to be therapeutic, but it’s not the writing that helps. It’s the sharing. Even if you’re only sharing with yourself, it’s the transfer of thoughts, feelings into something tangible that heals us. It’s that healing factor that inspires thousands of poems about heartache and lost.

It’s why writers sharing their work – not to brag and not for fame but to have someone else experience that emotion too. To make us feel less alone when dealing with a life event.

So do me a favor and say it with me. “My grandmother is dead.”


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