A few weeks ago my brother-in-law committed suicide. During the days since his death as I struggle to control my anguish and comfort my family, I find myself remembering images. My grief pulls pictures into my mind like a slide-show— my mother-in-law, her face crumpled as she cries, my great-niece peeking around the corner, searching for her Papa, the young neighbor boy at the funeral trying to keep his composure, holding back tears. Grief hits me like a driving rain each time I think about it, one breath away from sobbing.
While others think in terms of capturing a memory with a photograph, I remember moments in words. My mind replays events, and then the work begins as I describe those images, grasping the emotion forever.
Joan Didion once said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
In the weeks to come, I’ll be doing this—attempting to process the emotions as I write. It’s a good thing, this writing and processing. If you carry difficult emotions, I hope you will do the same. Make a list of the images in your brain. Describe them. Process them. And try to let them go.