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Through the Veil: A Reflection on Life & Grief after Losing You to Cancer

Written by Charna Cassell for publish on the Elephant Journal

Anxiety bubbles above this sinkhole of grief in my chest even though I thought I’d cried it out in the car.

As I walk through the cold, cluttered warehouse of Urban Ore looking for used doors, I imagine you walking beside me, wiggling in discomfort. You, the tidy, ideal houseguest, liked warmth and things in their place.

Missing you, I groan. Not just a sigh—more like my dog howling in her sleep. It’s loud enough for multiple masked men to look up from broken light fixtures and secondhand furniture to stare at me. “Life, life right now,” I mutter.

Announcing that you have just died seems like it would cross a line, even during this era of oppositions—more barriers but the removal of conventional boundaries due to Zoom and FaceTime. I’ve met all my clients’ pets and seen their bedrooms.

I’m spilling out at the edges when people ask me how I am. I pray that clients skip asking, “How are you?” because the question unravels me. When I say, “I just found out one of my best friends died,” people assume it was COVID-related and share their losses, offer air hugs, and say they wish they could give me a real one. Given how much you valued touch, it seems ironic that we must grieve without that comfort.

Until I found out you died, I was okay with quarantine, cultivating patience. There was the sense that I would see friends and family soon enough. I could be considerate of the collective, I thought, not travel, spend most of my days and nights alone.

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© 2022 By Charna Cassell, LMFT. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.

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