What to Do When It Still Hurts

Stumptown Coffee, Portland, OR, Horizon Perfekt Camera with Lomo 400 filmI was flipping back through old journal pages, looking for some project notes when I found this list. I think it felt too tender to post when I wrote it, but layers of time have created some cushioning around the words and they don't poke and prod at me like they used to.

And stumbling back upon it, I thought, that's a pretty good list. So I'm dusting it off and giving it its moment in the light.

What to Do When It Still Hurts (Even After All This Time)

  1. Wash the dishes in the near-dark.
  2. Listen to The Rosebuds.
  3. Eat the blueberries. All of them, even though it is late, because by tomorrow they won't be crisp and sweet anymore. Rub the place where the skin raises in the shape of a star with your tongue.
  4. Tell yourself what your friends do: it's understandable. It hasn't been as long as you think.
  5. Remember that nostalgia is a lying bitch.
  6. Drink a hot beverage, but for the love of God wait long enough to spare yourself that first-sip burn.
  7. Think of something kind you can do for yourself. blueberry blueberry blueberry
  8. Talk to someone else who is well-acquainted with grief. Notice how strong and clear her voice is, like an outstretched hand after a fall. Consider the same clear strength is in your own hands, your own voice.
  9. Avoid proclamations including words like ever and never, particularly those including both. They're really not helping.
  10. Use strong language for strong feelings.
  11. Feel the urge to numb out, to put on a good show, to lie a little even to yourself. Try to be true anyway.
  12. Notice that these moments are fewer and farther betweeen with every passing day (if you are so lucky) and be glad.
  13. Sit and stare out the window. Feel your feelings. Drink your drink.
  14. And when the cup is empty, get up.