Jack’s mom, Bonnie, died in 2013. His work as a circus performer and aerial artist has provided an outlet for his grief; he created a series of circus theater shows that explore his journey with loss and grief.
It’s a little weird but, one of the things I miss most about my mom is being annoyed at her. That just was such a part of our relationship. I miss that weirdly, I never thought I would.
I didn’t see my mom every day. I’d see her one week and she would look the same as she’s looked for months. And then the next week she would look really different somehow. I think it hit me how sick she was, when how she smelled changed.
A lot of my grief was this sort of empty rage that I couldn’t get past, that first layer of anger. Just anger at the world. Anger at what had happened. Anger that I had to go through that. Anger that I didn’t have my mom anymore. Anger that there wasn’t anything to be done about it.
It was either like, I was just so hot, mad, or nothing. Which was so strange cause I’m a fairly emotional person, and then to have that sort of just. . . emptiness . . . was bizarre.
People stopped asking me about it a couple months in. And people just started to not remember that that was a part of my existence. Even though, I would look at myself and feel like my face just was ridden with grief.
I think people that haven’t gone through that kind of loss don’t understand the way it affects everything in your brain and your body and your mind and ... everything in life. I think they’re like, “Oh, okay, well, you don’t have that person anymore, so probably you’re sad,” but they don’t know the, like, deep ... gash that no one can see that is just there.
Grief is weird. People get strange. People get angry and sad and empty. I’m sure I wasn’t terribly pleasant to be around. I was in a rough spot. No matter how much connection I wanted with someone else, I wasn’t able to be available for connection either. The kind of connection I needed was someone just sitting next to me and just sitting there, and that’s hard for a lot of people.
I think a perspective change needs to happen. It’s not, the goal of hanging out with someone in deep grief isn’t to cheer them up, it’s to help them know they’re not alone. And if, if we shift that goal, maybe friends and community will feel okay just sitting with someone and letting them hurt. But making sure they’re not alone.