The Ordinariness of Grief

Peter Nahigyan. Photo from the early 1970s.

Peter Nahigyan. Photo from the early 1970s.

My father’s death caused a lot of loneliness in my life, not because I internalized it but because I was frightened and confused by the fear and confusion of other people. To say that my father died would often send an adult in search of the chink in my armor, the loose thread, the thing that would unravel me in a puddle of mourning. But there is no chink, no thread, no visible scar. My grief is ordinary and well worn.

I do not often read about the ordinariness of grief, its mundane and indifferent character. Growing up with grief, on the best of days it becomes a natural garment. You put it on, you take it off. It may hang in your closet for years before you pull it back out again. You can smell it and you can feel it and it’s real but it isn’t a handicap. Those who’ve grieved do not want pity, they want to be taken in as a member of the tribe, as an individual who has experienced something that is not uncommon and not strange, that is harrowing but is not inescapable. We all share that coat eventually.

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