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Hicham El Ouahabi | Postponing grief only works for a short time

Hicham El Ouahabi,
2 juli 2024 - 10:10
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Last period, three people around columnist Hicham El Ouahabi died within a short period of time. But he noticed that he preferred to postpone mourning. “The pain and confrontation, I didn’t want to have to deal with that.”

It has been less than a year since three friends of mine died. Two by their own hand, one in a traffic accident. There were less than three months between each death. All three were young, none older than 24, each full of plans and dreams, and suddenly they were no more. All three are now underground, somewhere in the sky, or wherever you want them to be. And I avoided the loss of all three.
I will never forget how one morning I got the call that one of them was no longer there. That same evening I was playing pool at a café with friends who knew nothing about me. Laughing and having fun, as if nothing were wrong. I remember well how relieved and happy I was as I cycled towards the café. Relieved that I didn’t have to think about the fact that just three days ago I was chatting comfortably with someone who would never be there again. I didn’t want to think about the grief of the bereaved or how the deceased lived their last minutes. I sought distraction and wanted everything to be normal.

“Sooner or later the pain and confrontation that I didn’t want to give any space will come back like a boomerang”

The days that followed also went normally: studying for that one exam, scoring tickets for that one concert, looking forward to that one date, preparing the research outline of my thesis, and quickly finalizing those travel plans. Not to mention work, too. Before I knew it, all three were gone from my mind forever. And secretly, that was what I wanted, too. As for the pain and confrontation, I didn't want to have to deal with that.
Sooner or later the pain and confrontation that I didn’t want to give any space will come back like a boomerang. And now I see that boomerang coming. Step by step, it’s moving towards me. I feel it in everything, and the only thing I can think is: luckily summer vacation is just around the corner, just ambush me, I have all the time in the world now. As I think that, I realize how stupid it is to think that grieving is only possible in quieter times. As if everything has to be predictable.
Why didn’t I reflect on their deaths? Was it cowardice? Fear? Perhaps. Maybe I didn’t want to allow death into my existence. Maybe I can’t accept that young people die, too, and by shying away from it, I cling to the feeling that they are still alive. I don’t know.
What I do know is that now is the time to dwell on it. To admit the pain and confront it. Not because I have to, but because it is necessary. For them, and for me. Time to make room for death so that life can truly begin again.

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