This morning, the first day after the day of the death of my father-in-law, I found myself trying to define the sense and complexity of grief.
What could I use to define it? Grief is a long list of adjectives and those adjectives very neatly contradict each other. It can be heavy. It can be light. It can be overpowering or something lingering and vague.
I finally settled on the idea that grief is perhaps simply a substance just like any other substance. Grief, as a substance or a form of matter, can take the form of a solid, a liquid, or a gas (yes, if you want to get technical there is also plasma and a couple other states that occur in very rare situations but let us not consider those at this time).
Sometimes grief is a solid. It is heavy. It is constricting. It pushes the air out of your lungs and keeps you from taking a proper breath.
Sometimes grief is fluid. It flows like a fresh water stream into the salty vastness of the sea. It can drown you.
And sometimes grief is a gas that can be compressed, forced into hiding so no one can see it. At the same time it can expand and take over the entire space of your life. It is wispy and ungraspable. Maddening.
That is it. My definition of my grief. It can elude you in one moment and in the next it can sucker punch you in the gut.