Sitting With Grief

A book beside a mug

Happy new year! I’m Laetitia, the new editorial assistant intern at Ethos! This week has been a blur of a dream—from being welcomed so warmly into the Ethos team, to getting started on some really exciting projects, I am filled with anticipation for the months to come.

Some weeks ago, crawling out of the exhaustion of a very painful semester, I went on a date with…myself—a practice that I began to cultivate only last year, after finally shedding that ever-familiar fear of being alone.

In a time heavy with grief, I find myself clinging onto the people and things I love. Last year, loss and the threat of loss hung perpetually over my life, and I began to wonder who I could even be, in the absence of all that I have loved. I wondered if I would like the person I found, and then I realised I had no idea who she would even be; thus begun my ‘study in solitude’, in part to figure that out, in greater part to confront a world I was pretty sure I would eventually be truly, entirely alone in.

At the beginning, I had no idea what to do. I took myself to The Projector intending to watch a movie, but felt shy and left. I didn’t dare walk into stores alone either. Mostly I wandered through the streets of Tanjong Pagar, Little India, and Chinatown, letting myself be misled at every turn of every corner.

That specific day from weeks ago, in the quiet of that sweltering walk down to a café I finally mustered up the courage to enter, I felt myself exhale for the first time in ages. I marveled at the weird and completely fascinating way light bends when it falls on something, before sending a picture of it to my best friend. When I stopped at a slab of concrete with grass growing defiantly out of its cracks, I was reminded of my grandfather, and of the tiny garden he used to tend to in the balcony of his house when I was younger. Then, on the train home, I watched as a little girl pasted stickers on her mother’s arm and my heart swelled as I thought of my mother.

I have often felt violently lonely in my grief. So much that I avoided being alone. I know now that everything—even grief—is a consequence of love, and that in learning to be alone, I learn better to love who I love. I learn they are always with me—I see them in every beautiful thing. I learn that the person I am, in loss, is still a person who is never without them.

“To be loving is to be open to grief, to be touched by sorrow, even sorrow that is unending.”
—bell hooks

I hope your new year is touched immeasurably by love, joy and light. Everything else is merely proof of it.


(From January 8, 2021)

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