Is This Thing Broken? Am I?

Sometimes I miss the grief. It reminded me that you were real.

  • Leah O'Daniel

Written on Jan 16, 2022

sad woman KieferPix / Shutterstock

Mournings. Mornings.

I don’t know what they are anymore.

In another life, I prided myself on being an early riser. I loved waking up early when the house was quiet, and I had a few hours to myself. My introverted soul longed for these hours. Only the universe and I coexisted then.

Now it seems to run together. Days and nights and nights and days.

Mornings have become a different time.

I remember those first mournings. The sudden weight on my chest with that first waking breath. The heavy reminder that no, all is not well. This is not just another day. It wasn’t another bad dream.


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I can’t explain it, but sometimes I miss those mournings. The intensity let me know it was real. That he was real. The intensity meant that no one could take it away or shame me for it. I had a purpose for all the anguished emotions.

I miss those mornings.

Mournings or mornings. I am not sure which.

Is this thing broken? Am I?

In the early days, I caved from the pressure. Scurried about getting back to ‘normal’. Grief exhaustion overtook my tired body until I was existing on only caffeine, wine, and sleep aids.

I couldn’t remember driving to work. I couldn’t remember driving back. I couldn’t remember why I was there. Often losing track of my words mid-sentence. I didn’t understand what was happening.


I forgot to pay my bills. Neglected household chores. Existed in a fog. Only semi-aware of what was happening.

Still, I felt the pressure and I heard the judgment, whispered through megaphones.

I survived second to second. Days turned to weeks and weeks to months. The pressure to be back to normal already grew heavier and heavier. And I would think —

Is this thing broken? Am I?

RELATED: 7 Ways To Ease The Pain Of Grief After Losing A Parent

Folks misunderstand grief. What it means to be grieving, what it feels like, and what it looks like. I misunderstood.

I used to believe grief was a period of sadness. I used to be one of those schmucks that judged people for not getting over something as quickly as I thought they should.


I used to believe I had some kind of authority on when someone should be finished with any emotion, but especially with grief. A truth that shames my soul now. I thought it was just sadness. I misunderstood.

It’s more than all that.

Grief is a slow, unpredictable carnival ride through the dark that you unknowingly step onto. The harness pulls and pinches. The ride car twists and turns. Makes your stomach drop. Sometimes forces you to throw up. It never stops. It loops around the track, over and over and over again.

Grief is a state of being. It’s no singular emotion. It follows no linear pattern. Grief comes in suffocating swells and varying degrees. One morning you can drown in sadness and anguish. But by that very afternoon find yourself filled with unshakeable rage. And you begin to think —


Is this thing broken? Am I?

Slowly and without grace, those early mournings shifted to days in the middle. Something strange happened when I was forced to live through grief.

Colors became a little brighter, yet darker too. Silver linings became sharp silver-edged blades, instead.

Every ounce of joy laced with pain. Hope with trepidation. Anger with purpose. Sadness with intensity. It’s emotional purgatory of sorts.

I wonder sometimes what it would feel like if I could set this heavy burden of complication down. If only for a moment, I could divorce the union of these opposite end emotions. But I’ll never know.

Is this thing broken? Am I?

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Last month I bought a house. One I have always dreamed about.

I bought a house with a master suite. A kitchen with an island. An office with fancy French doors. I’ll write a book there, I think.

But dreams shatter and dreams cut sometimes.

I bought a house with bedrooms you’ll never need. A backyard you’ll never see. Someday soon, I’ll leave the only house in which you grew.

I’m ready to go. I’m ready for new.

Still, I have to go without you.


Because all good things are now clouded with grief.

Is this thing broken? Am I?

Everything should’ve been perfect here.

My dreams — your parent’s dreams are coming true.

And I need a minute to miss this and to miss you.

Is this thing broken?

Am I?

No, my friend. That’s grief.

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Leah O'Daniel is a freelance writer with a love for creative writing. She focuses on personal growth, trauma, and Sociological concepts. For more, follow her writing via her website