I first heard of Grief is the thing with feathers written by Max Porter when a friend of mine was reading it. I had just lost my mother, and he had just started the book so he thought I should read it. Fast forward five months and a breakdown in the middle of the night for not dealing with the grief, I finally asked for the book. By that time, mainly because of how my breakdown turned out to be (yes, he was also the first one I called when I felt alright the next day), he was a bit hesitant to handover the book. “Are you sure”? He’d asked. “Yes sir,” I’d replied.
When I read the book’s summary, I thought this is one way to see grief. The book is about a family who is visited by a crow to help them mourn the death of the woman of the family. The family had two brothers and a father. And it is written as a monologue by each of the members and the crow. And it reads like poetry; at least it did for me.
While I have been struggling to deal with the death of my mother, the ‘Father’ in the book had been struggling to deal with the death of his wife. But there was a difference between how we both dealt with the loss, he stopped his whole world after the death, and I fast forwarded it. And although the sons lost their mother too, I could relate more to the father than them and perhaps it was because of the age difference. The sons are still young, hoping that their mother would come back; the father is old enough to know that she will never come back. And I think I am old enough to know that not only that my mother will never be back, I also don’t want her to. Not in this cold brutal world. Not with the disease that took her away.
I couldn’t bring myself to openly write about this when I first finished reading the book because of the emotions that flooded me inside.I couldn’t write when everything was still so raw. And now, all I can remember about the book is that it made me realize that I haven’t dealt with grief like I should’ve done. And that I don’t know how to deal with it. And that I don’t want to read any books for a while. Especially, not the deep shit books of poetry I had in line to read.
I stopped reading for a while. I jumped to Adventures of Tintin when I wanted to read something because someone suggested I should go back to reading comics for lighter reads. I also started questioning myself a lot. Why was it hard to deal with grief? Why did grief keep coming back? Why didn’t I have a crow?
You should by now know this isn’t a review. This is merely my musings, many months later after I had finished my book; I woke up one morning realizing what I should have realized for a long time. For me at least, Grief isn’t a thing with feathers. It is a nightmare of ocean that keeps drowning me. And now, I have learnt that I should let it drown me. Fighting with grief is a losing war and not just battle. I also know what comes after grief washes you up to the shore: emptiness – when you just lay down in the sand, not knowing what to do. You look up and gaze at the stars twinkling, and wonder if you could ever shine past through this.
But you will, I suppose, one day. Till then, you let grief come and go as it pleases. Till then you find a crow for yourself. Till then you read about how grief is the thing with feathers. Or the thing with claws. Or just the thing.