When Grief Goes On and On

Maryanne Pope
3 min readSep 1, 2022

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“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert

As Elizabeth Gilbert expressed in her book, Eat, Pray Love, overwhelming emotions can sometimes become so strong and familiar that they almost seem to have their own identity.

I experienced this with grief: an old — but not so dear — friend.

Grief came to visit when I was 32. Just barged on in the front door of my heart and took up residence like she owned the joint.

And like any uninvited and annoying house-guest, she just wouldn’t leave.

But I kind of got used to her hanging around, I guess, because as much as she was dragging me down and holding me back, being with her 24–7 had also become strangely comfortable…an excuse, if you will, for not moving on. But when months turned into years that threatened to turn into half a decade, I realized I had to put my foot down.

Grief had overstayed her welcome; it was time for her to go.

Funnily enough, it was a Christmas tree that finally drove a wedge into our friendship. A few years after my husband’s death, it was my Dad who pointed out — subtly, for he knew how close grief and I had become — that perhaps our relationship was no longer healthy.

“Maryanne,” he said, pointing to the, admittedly, very sad-looking Christmas tree in my living room, “that is a fire hazard.”

To which I nodded. “I know.”

“It’s March,” he said. “It’s been up for three months.”

To which I nodded again. “I know.”

“So why haven’t you taken it down?” he asked.

I shrugged. “I don’t know.”

And I didn’t. It just didn’t seem to matter. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. It was just one lousy day after the other…plod, plod, plod, blah, blah, blah. The only difference between one day and the next was a few more pine needles under the tree. And the fact that I was watching a dead tree slowly decompose in my living room seemed a fitting metaphor for how I felt.

And that, I suspect (in hindsight), is what depression looks like — or rather, situational depression. And what is situational depression but grief’s BFF. Grief must have snuck her in through a window when I wasn’t looking!

So I threw them BOTH out.

Oh sure…they took their sweet time to pack their bags and leave. And then, of course, they came back once in awhile — okay, a lot — to visit. Sometimes they brought another pal along: self-pity. Now that is one ugly chick…

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Maryanne Pope

Maryanne writes blogs, books, screenplays & play scripts. She is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions & Co-Founder of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.