The Day My Grief Overtook Me

Greysen Paige
6 min readMay 26, 2024
AI-Generated Art by Greysen

I came in from running errands, placed my wallet and phone in the sanitizer, walked up to the kitchen, and began to rinse my face, and something at that moment broke inside me. All the strength from holding it together poured down my face. I couldn’t tell what was water or tears, but I was crying so hard it could have all been tears, and I’d have believed it.

Every time I began to catch my breath, I’d cry harder. It’s one of those moments where grief isn’t just challenging, but where it grabs you by the throat with a strong hand and body slams you into a wall, leaving you disoriented and dizzy.

AI-Generated Art by Greysen

It rarely happens these days, and I almost thought I had made it out alive. I almost outlived the grief and pain of losing my best friend. You must have come in quietly, or maybe I was crying so loudly I didn’t hear you, but I’ll never forget you gently pulling me into you, soaked clothes and all. It felt like you just appeared, like my huge protective teddy bear, right when I needed you.

I think if, at that moment, you asked me, “What’s wrong?” “Why are you crying??” my heart would have just imploded. I couldn’t handle anything at that moment, and somehow, you knew that. You held me until I seemed to calm down, occasionally rubbing my back. A gentle “I’m here, it’s ok” without any words. A calming, steady presence is exactly what I need when I’m having a hard time. I don’t need advice. I need a gentle presence.

I cleaned up, dried off, and sat down at the end of the bed. I said, “This is something I’ve wanted to share with you, but there’s a part of me that is completely heartbroken, and I feel like if you try to comfort me, hug me, touch me, help me feel better, I may start crying, and I feel like I may never stop. You know when you’re *just* holding it together enough, and someone safe asks if you are ok, and you go from ok to not ok instantly?”.

I steadied myself, “There was a person in my life who was my best friend in the entire world. I shared every loss and every triumph with her. She taught me so much of what I know, and she’s a part of the very fabric of existence. Almost everything I do, everything I love, has her fingerprints. My world, in many ways makes absolutely no sense without her. Many people saw her as just my Grammy, but she was my best friend. She was the person I ran to when my heart was breaking, and she was the person I ran to when I crested the top of the mountain. My sisters and I were her purpose in life, and she did so magnificently.” Your eyes, wide and teary, could feel my love and loss.

I tried to explain, “When others say “I lost my Grandma too” they just don’t understand, despite their best efforts to try to comfort me with understanding. But she was so much more. I spent a piece of every single day with her since I was born. She lived right next door, and I'd walk over as soon as possible and spend every moment with her. Until recently, I would stay up until 2 or 3 am because I’d always stay up late with her, watching HGTV and talking about life. In a way, since she was gone, it made me feel closer to her to stay up late still. But the quiet is deafening without her laughter.

Imagine someone like a Mom who teaches you so much of what you know, protects you, encourages you to dream, and always, always told you you could achieve any goal you set, no matter how big. Now imagine that this person becomes your best friend as you grow up. She met all my love interests and gave me a place to live when I struggled in my teens and when I was in between big cross-country moves — always a safe home when I needed or wanted it. She gave me rides and even bought me a car when needed. She came to the bar with me and my friends and took funny pictures in front of the “*Cock*tails” sign to make me laugh.

And I did. I laughed so hard. We laughed all the time. We were silly, and we were nonsensical, and we were exactly what the other one needed.

She lost her youngest son when he was only 6 weeks old. She thought she’d never be the same like she might never be ok again. For a long time, she wasn’t, and she was just very angry. About 20 years later, I arrived, and she was the first to hold me. From that moment, I began to heal her heart from the inside out.

AI-Generated Art by Greysen

There is no way for me to tell you how much we loved or what we meant to each other. She was often the first person I’d talk to when I woke up and the last person I’d say good night to after frequent 2 am phone calls. Sometimes, I wonder if I stay up really late, hoping that somehow, for some reason, she’d call me to complain about her printer being broken or some stupid couple on House Hunters with a crazy long wish list and a $10 budget. She would tour her own new houses and show me every new item she bought for this one, right down to the bath mats. She loved creating beautiful spaces and sharing them, sharing her joy.

You just held my hand, listening intently.

I concluded, “So sometimes when I’m having a great day, I get sad momentarily because I can’t share it with her. I can’t show her that everything she believed for me and about me came true. I can’t show her that everything we daydreamed about since I was 3 years old and everything we imagined for me is all real now. Occasionally, that grief of not getting to share those moments with her is enough to overtake my smile.

Most days, I’m great. I’m genuinely happy, my life is great, and I’m so proud of what we’ve built. I’m so lucky to have you, My Mom, Dad, Aunts, and amazing friends. This isn’t to say she replaced any of them, but no one will ever replace her. But I wish, more than anything, that my best friend was still here to bask in the pride that every sacrifice she made was worth it and that I could make her as proud as she dreamed she would be. And I wish I got to say goodbye.

AI-Generated Art by Greysen

You hugged me, and we took a really deep breath together, and by then, I felt ok again. In a way, it felt like you knew her a bit, and for today… that was enough.

In loving memory of Barbara Ruth Anne Cogan (1947–2020)

Greysen Paige is a tech industry exec who writes creatively about a future he wishes for and dreams of. He also seeks new and additional creative outlets, reading, studying the magic of life, playing video games, and, most importantly, spending time with family and friends. Find me in more places at https://Greysen.io.

Disclaimer: AI is not used in any of my writing. It is only used when generating art for my stories and will always be labeled clearly.

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Greysen Paige

He/Him 🔵 • Executive @ Firebrand 💼 • Formerly @ Apple📱 & Google 🔎 • Eco-Warrior 🌍 • LGBTQIA+ 🏳️‍🌈 •