The grief and amount of death I have experienced at 30 years old is more than the average person. It is more than the average person in my life, at least. It started out at age 13 when my grandpa died. Then, I had a few of my mom's cousins who we were close to pass away, then my dad passed away, my aunt a few years later. A few more of my mom's cousins tragically passed in the coming years and last year, we loss my grandpa.

Since then, we also lost my great aunt, my grandpa's sister and every time my family and I walk into a funeral home it feels like a cruel joke.

We laugh, we poke fun, how we're always at a funeral but that kind of tragedy sticks with you. 

My relationship with grief has transformed since my dad passed in 2016. The 7 year anniversary was last week and it felt like a very ominous day. I was oddly calm but the reminder of what the day symbolized lingered in the background of my mind.

Grief is something you learn to live with, it's not something that ever goes away completely and I've learned that over time. You get better at dealing with grief and you learn to let it be with you daily. You're reminded of it at stronger times, like on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, or when something big happens and you look around for the person who is missing.

Grief can also hit you out of nowhere. One place it seemingly haunts me is the gluten free aisle of a grocery store. My dad had celiac and he was diagnosed in the late 80s, when no one understood what gluten even was. 

I remember growing up, there was only one type of pasta and one type of cookie my dad could eat. When gluten-free diets started to become more mainstream and he was able to eat the food he had been missing out on for almost half of his life, he was ecstatic. 

When I see how many gluten free foods exist now, I smile but also feel the grief build up in my throat. He would be so happy. 

Not a day goes by that I don't think of all the people in my life who have left me. It's a constant, nagging feeling that is always in my mind and even when I don't want to think about them, I do. It's a haunting noise that constantly surrounds me.

Even with the constant thoughts, grief doesn't really make me sad anymore. It's something that is just there, drumming inside my body. I don't really cry, I'm not angry, I just am.

On holidays I used to lock myself in my room for about an hour and just cry. I used to have to do that but as the years pass, and the family around the table gets smaller and smaller, I cry less and less. Perhaps it's because I lost a parent and every loss since then feels less life changing or maybe it's because I've become so use to dealing with grief that I've become a pro at it. 

If that is the case, if I am just so used to death that it doesn't make me feel, that is scary and sad. It's frightening and it scares me, but it also might be a defense mechanism. If I don't consciously think about it then it doesn't feel real.

Grief is funny, it's terrifying and it's upsetting. It is so many things and nothing all at once.

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