Grieving post apocalypse

It’s a matter of post apocalyptic fact. You are going to lose someone you love. Parents, children, partners- maybe even just a pet. The apocalypse will steal them from you, break your heart. And it won’t just be in the initial chaos of the end of the world- it’ll happen in the back-breaking grind of immediate survival.

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It’ll even happen when your safe (ish) and settled (ish).

People are going to die, and probably much sooner than you would expect.

And you can’t afford to be distant and prostrate with sorrow. So what can you do?

First thing first, remember that it’s not over. It feels over, believe me, I know it feels over but you are alive. The person you love wouldn’t want you to die along with them. No matter how hard it is, make yourself go on. If they died out in the wilderness, bury them, leave a marker. Take something precious, and keep going. If they die in the safe confines of a survival compound, there’ll be a pre-existing cerremony to help you through this. But the most important thing is KEEP GOING.

I’m not telling you not to feel it. That’ll do you more damage than good. But just keep going.

Grief can completely destroy you, and before you tell me I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about, let me tell you a story.

There was a woman. Let’s call her Jane. Jane was amazing, one of the most wonderful women I have ever known. She wasn’t beautiful, it was better than that- she was fantastic. She was clever, and quick witted, and kind, and she was my non-legal godmother. She had been very young when I was born.

She was the person I loved best next to my parents and my favourite aunt. When I was little, she got very ill, and then she got better, and even though there was that huge leaden word ‘cancer’ being bandied about I didn’t think anything of it. She was better, she had the best hugs and bought me the best clothes. She got me presents that she wrapped in layers of tissue paper, filled with stars and magic, and she signed them ‘Lots of love, Jane’. She shaved her head at the sides and died the back as many colours as it would go. Green and red for christmas.

I wanted to be her. And then, when I was 15, nearly 16, a friend of hers bent his 7 foot tall body into a tiny, hired mini, to come and tell us she was dead. She was 35. The cancer had come back, sitting in her brain, and this time they couldn’t make it better.

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She opted for no treatment, and without telling us, hundreds of miles away, she died.

I used to think that people were lying when they said shock or pain could make you blank something out of your head, but I barely remember the following three months.I remember going to her funeral, and coming back to hear the Twin Towers had fallen and being unable to feel anything for all those poor people because there was this huge desert inside me. But thats it. After that, nothing. Flashes- hitting someone with a chair cause they told me if they were a member of my family they’d kill themself-.

Grief put me out of commission for months. It made me utterly incapable and ten years after she died seeing a woman with her nose can kick me right in the heart.

But had that been an apocalyptic event, I would have been utterly useless, and that’s why I say this. No matter how grief hits you, no matter how distraught you feel, you cannot let yourself spiral like I did.

I’m not an expert- clearly, or I wouldn’t have crashed so badly- but in very extreme circumstances, I think a little repression will be necessary. Crush your giref into a tiny little ball until you are in a safe place. But then, let yourself feel it. I know it hurts, but your mind and body will fail you if you let it poison you.

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