Imagine you’ve been reading a book without page numbers since the day you were born, and you really like the main character, and one day, quite suddenly, there are no more pages. It didn’t end exactly. There wasn’t any resolution or closure, any mysteries were left unsolved. The pages just ran out. You may go over the last few pages again and again, desperately trying to figure out what happened, why the story ended where it did. Why, after such a long book, were you left with an unsatisfying end? You may want to confront the author in attempt to get some answers. Or, if you’re an atheist, you may find yourself wondering… what was the point?
Grieving seems to be a pretty clear-cut activity. Someone’s gone and you miss them. Oh, but it’s so much trickier than that. When a parent dies, for instance, it forces a complete self-evaluation. You feel more vulnerable than ever before. You realize your book could run out of pages at any moment, that, in fact, your book is probably next in line to end. Your role changes from daughter or son to….. what? That’s something you need to figure out.
You realize two things simultaneously. 1. Time is running out, so you better make it count, and 2. One of the people who made your life easier, happier or more interesting is gone, so good luck bouncing back and seizing the day with that extra weight on your shoulders.
These realizations might make you want to do everything at once or absolutely nothing. Grieving guides tell you to refrain from doing the former and consult a therapist if you feel like doing the latter. This suggests you’re supposed to just keep on doing what you’re doing, business as usual. Only it’s not business as usual. And there’s a good chance you want things in your life to change. What better time to embrace the opportunity to shake things up?
So I’ve made a new rule for myself. Drastic is okay, dangerous is not. As I’ve mentioned before, they (the ones with degrees who’ve written self-help books) tell you not to do anything drastic, like cutting off most of your hair. But I think that’s stupid. Hair grows. There is nothing dangerous about getting a new haircut. It might be considered drastic, but it’s not dangerous. A new job? Drastic, not dangerous. A divorce? Drastic, not dangerous. Drunkenly driving for the border at 2am? Ding ding ding…. Dangerous. Don’t do that.
Of course this won’t necessarily apply to anyone else. Maybe you had a good life and you want to get back to it. Then put down the scissors, do as they say and move on. But for me, I see this as the shove I’ve needed for quite some time. I don’t know when my story will end, but I want to make it a good one. I want the readers of my story to freak the fuck out when they reach the last page. I want them to shake their fists at the sky, devastated that they won’t get to read what happens next. And then I want them to go out and do something drastic, but not dangerous.