Tonight, I've spent hours reading articles about grief in preparation for a paper I'm writing in one of my college classes. In the paper, I intend to argue against an end to grief, against closure, healing, and "moving on." In these early stages of research, I feel excited about the potentialities of the project and where they might lead me. Already, I've found sources that echo my own ideas about grief--how it can be a productive emotion, fueling political action; how ways of grieving are often socially regulated and medicalized, which can be very damaging to those struggling with loss; how messy and open-ended grief is for many people. Writing about something as personal as grief in an academic language might seem daunting or undesirable but, in fact, it's invigorating to situate my own experiences within a larger theoretical framework. This is when academic writing can feel vital and necessary and full of possibilities because it allows me the time to go deeper into a subject that already obsesses me.
At this time in my life, as I stand on the cusp of graduation and confront the vastness of the future, this paper gives me something to cling to; it is a stabilizing force. For the first time in a long time, as I perused various articles on grief, I thought to myself "I enjoy this." And it's odd to say such a thing when you enjoy reading about loss and mourning and the worst things that can happen to people, but it's the truth. I feel a sense of connection to the material. I'm curious. I want to learn more. I want to maybe even dedicate my life to this inquiry, spend my days and nights lost in research about how we grieve and how we cope and how we survive or don't survive life-shattering loss.
I don't know what any of this means. I have no plans to go to graduate school right now. I need to graduate and find a job and help pay bills because my family is struggling financially. I don't have many options. So I file all this away in the back of my head for another time in the future when I can pursue this passion more fully and maybe become a grief counselor. I just want to remember this night. I want to remember how enriched and connected and alive I feel. I want to remember this sense of meaning and possibility.