A Keeping It Real Post
No time to read? Check out the YouTube video. Although you’re already here so why not continue?
Welcome to this episode of Grief and Random Weird Stuff This Widow Thinks About. About two years into my life in The AfterLoss, I read an article that said all the cells in our body are completely replaced every seven years, and I freaked the f@#k out. I frantically calculated when I’d hit the seven-year mark.
Science Disclaimer: That’s not 100% accurate. It takes about ten years and excludes our brains, tooth enamel, oocytes, and the lenses of our eyes. And the rate of replacement varies for different types of cells. For example, our skin cells are completely replaced every two-three weeks. Fat cells, rude little bastards that they are, stick around for almost ten years before they are made new.
Insert Existential Crisis Here
What?!?!? What do you mean there would come a time when no part of my body had known his touch? His hug? His kiss? And, that by the time I’d read that incorrect article, my skin cells had already been replaced, and that had happened a few weeks after he’d died. There is nothing like a grief-y existential crisis to knock you down for days as your brain implodes in an endless spinning circle trying to process whether he/me/we even existed at all.
Fortunately, our hearts have the power to make those new cells remember the stuff the old cells experienced. A different take on genetic memory, perhaps. Science peeps, somebody get on that research project and explain it to me.
But I digress. I think about this story whenever I hear about someone who has lost their person, and well-meaning family and friends are pushing them to get rid of their person’s clothes or wash things. First, thanks for trying to provide Grief Support. Second, don’t wash anything without asking first.
New Year, New Me
I know it’s the time of year everyone feels compelled to purge stuff, clean out, and just get a fresh start. But you can’t apply that to the bereaved. It doesn’t matter if we’re sleeping in his hoodie forever. Or that we haven’t washed his pillowcase. Those things might still smell like him! And even if they don’t, they touched him. No cells left on me have held his hand, hugged him, or kissed his lips. But this ugly ass hoodie touched him! This pillowcase knows the imprint of the face I can no longer caress, and the fully-replaced-every-three-weeks cells on my hands never did.
So slow it down and please be gentle with the grieving. There is no timeline for any of this.
And for my fellow bereaved, be gentle with yourselves. Keep the stuff as long as you want. Don’t let anyone pressure you to do anything your heart isn’t ready for. It’s been hurt enough. Just remember you aren’t alone. I’m holding space for you.
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.