“She’s still alive in your heart.”

Unfortunately, you’ll now realize what little the thing can do. Heart-life is a shoddy clone of the pulseable body you remember. It’s like vegan cheese. Stop thinking of it as cheese and you’ll relish the yeasty taste, the creative spin on cashews. Stop thinking this thing in your heart is anywhere near resurrection. Alive is the wrong word. In is the wrong word. Heart is a pulpy, semantic disaster.

“She’s in a better place now.”

There’s no rock bottom in The Garden of Eden, no hangovers or seasonal layoffs at the office. When hungry, she reaches for Adam, turns his femur to marmalade, buttermilk biscuits, honeyed oolong. Another hunger and his sternum bears her children. In heaven, she plucks bones like apples & begins the slow, eternal making of everything she wants.

“I’m just a phone call away.”

Another voice at the end of mythical elsewhere, Away.

“Welcome to the club of the bereaved.”

Just a few months back, I went through the same thing. God needed another angel and Nana fit the bill. We all knew it was coming. She’d been sick long enough for goodbyes to lose their luster. She passed in her sleep, bless her heart. Natural causes. At the ripe age of 90, she’d lived a good life. I mourn the loss less than the distrust it’s equipped me with. I sleep with one eye open. Believe it. Can’t trust nature worth a damn anymore— not after it killed my grandma.

“You’ll get through this.”

Just like she did (viz. leaving others to mourn in the muck of that). In the meantime, survive the gummy pulpit, the sticky churn of grief cycles twirling and twirling on. You’re in this, honey. This is it.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

One could make this a conditional statement (if it doesn’t kill you [A], then it makes you stronger [B]). The conclusion that could NOT logically follow is “If it doesn’t kill you then it doesn’t make you stronger.” Sometimes what doesn’t kill you kills your friend and leaves you with nothing but strength to build back from. Sure, it wouldn’t be your first pick but you can work with it, you hulky new beefcake, you.

P.S. The fact that it killed her tells us nothing of her strength. It simply negates [A], which offers a wholly new equation, which may result in [B], but which may also result in any other sorry letter of the alphabet.

“I know how you feel.”

When I think loss, I think last spring. My car keys went missing and it was all my fault. I couldn’t shake the hope of catching up to them one day. In the meantime, getting anywhere proved dawdling and tedious. Destinations seemed hardly worth it. I grew stir-crazy, housebound. I couldn’t get far enough. I’d pace the sidewalk in front of my house or buy a dozen eggs at the corner store. The plastic bag swung against my leg metronomically. I broke more than I saved. What I saved on gas I spent on replacement eggs. It was terrible. The trash piled in heavy layers. Crosswalks became a site of staring headlights, hidden eyes behind windshield glares. My body behaved funny under this new surveillance. Finally, I got new ones made. But you know, it’s never been the same after that. I’m still relearning to drive. But I don’t have to tell you that.

“You are not alone.”

The largest humanitarian crisis in the world looks just like you: a woman made of ash adorns a woman’s living room mantle. It’s as if she died on September 12th. The nation has done their mourning. Your perceived aloneness is a symptom of American narcissism. You are — let me guess — the saddest person alive. You are the saddest ever. You are. A woman made of ashes.