By Mary Huff Cucarola

May 22, 2022

“To love is to risk losing. To lose is to risk finding something new. The cycle of the heart: birth, death, rebirth. Therefore, before my heart turns to stone, I will reenter the cycle, and make up my mind again to risk living.” ~Molly Fumia

I cut my hair super short again. Like I did when I went to Greece in 2015. I was so deep in my grief for that trip, I didn’t think I could survive my son’s death.

Today, I am on my way to the United Kingdom for a trip, after losing my furry companion of almost 12 years – my golden retriever named Joy – three weeks ago. More grief, much different of course, but grief just the same.

Seems grief and I are tight. Grief and I hang together. Grief wants to kick my ass, but I won’t let it.

The writing retreat on the island of Patmos, Greece was an unexpected opportunity, and I accepted it, because I wanted to write. To write about what happened to me and my son. To write about my loss and to figure out how I felt about it.

The group on that island was crazy interesting; intelligence abounded, creativity flowed, authenticity oozed, and I felt alive again. For a couple of weeks anyway, until I went back home.

Grief is a phony friend. It reels you in because it feels comfortable to be a victim of it or be a martyr in spite of it or be angry because of it. But feeling victimized, wronged, or angry doesn’t get you what you want, which is for it to go away. Just please go away, grief.

Trusting in nothing but grief is a risky path. If it doesn’t kill you, it will throw into depression or worse yet, apathy about most everything in your life. You become stuck and begin to trust the darkness. You can’t imagine waking up without it.

I don’t deny the reality of grief. It is real and is a rollercoaster of difficult feelings. It is just that I refuse to make it my best friend. I refuse to make it an excuse for treating myself badly or to give myself permission to be sad all of the time.

If I identify as the lonely grief-stricken mother, I give myself an excuse to behave as if the world owes me something. The world owes me nothing.

Constant emotional suffering makes you shallow; it gives you a life that is small and isolated. The desire to fight back against my phony friend is my strongest motivation to make my life healthy, stable, and sane.

Cutting my hair super short must be rebellion for me. It seems to be saying, hey, grief stay away from me – I can be sweet and sassy and fun-loving and live fully without you. I don’t have to be a victim of my circumstances, but maybe I’ll be a champion of them.

It is not always easy for sure, and I have my rough spots, but grief and I are not tight anymore.

Off to risk living.

By Mary Cucarola


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