The Five Senses of Grief

Jenna Hatfield
Jun 9 · 2 min read
Photo by author, Jenna Hatfield

Grief tastes like

Coffee at ten o’clock at night because hands need
to be busy. Chicken and mashed potatoes.
Various types of cheesy potatoes: some with
cream of mushroom, some with sour cream,
all deliciously sad. French fries while you’re
running the errands of death. The Christmas
tree taste of gin, a shot of whiskey in honor
of a life cut far, far, far too short. Peppermint
gum. Three olives, speared by a tiny green sword;
salty like my tears.

Grief sounds like

Words that don’t make sense,
forever repeating in your ears:
We lost dad. We lost dad.
Lost dad. Dad. Dad.
Sympathies uttered in a line:
I’m sorry for your loss.
Sorry for your loss.
Your loss.
Loss. Loss. Loss.
Sniffles. Stories. Laughter.
Firefighters kneeling down,
looking into the eyes of broken boys,
“We’re here for you. We are family.”
Bagpipes in the rain, fading slowly
into the distance: the rain never slowing.

Grief smells like

The cologne he wore, the bottle
open and closed, open and closed.
My love’s shampoo as I hold him close,
vowing never to let him go. Flowers
upon flowers. Apples, three bags worth;
it is September, after all. Freshly printed
papers, photocopies. Rose water on vintage
hankies. Wet, fresh Earth.

Grief looks like

A facial expression never seen before
that will haunt your memory forever.
The clock, unmoving that endless
first night; dawn breaking, light slowly
reminding you of the reality, the truth.
A room full of caskets; a room filled,
shoulder to shoulder, with people all
wearing the same look of shock,
of sadness, of brokenhearted reality.
The flashing lights of a fire truck leading
us all on one last run; men standing
along the side of the road, saluting,
rain soaking their coats, their souls.
Six men, a hole in the ground, blurry
visions of two boys sobbing. Rain,
always the cold, unrelenting rain.

Grief feels like

Hugs from 500 strangers. Hug after
hug after awkward handshake after
hug. An emptiness mixed with a
fullness. An out of body experience
as the words of his obituary slip
from the mouth of the pastor; surely
this isn’t real life. A movie; one with
equal parts horror and sad, sad drama
but no happy ending. Cold rain trickling
down your forehead. A squeeze of
your shoulder, a pat on the back.
The pit in the feeling of your stomach
once you realize the cards have
stopped arriving. Endless.

— __ — __ —

Written in honor and memory of my father-in-law, Bill Hatfield, lost to us by suicide on September 13, 2018.

If you need to speak to someone, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 by calling 1–800–273–8255. You can also text CONNECT to 741741.

Jenna Hatfield

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