Josh Bossie

The driftwood will remind him about eternity

On Grief & Work

2022 was a hard year for me and my family. We had terrifying medical issues, home emergencies, and worse. Not even work was an escape, because my projects weren’t going very good either.

But what we didn’t have to deal with was death or or the grief that comes with it. In that way we were lucky.

In 2023, we had to grieve a lot. I suppose we were overdue.

First it was my dog of 12 years, Lacey, who became lost and presumed dead. We never did get closure, and we never will, but we did grieve.

Then there was my neighbor and good friend. He was only a little older than me with two very young kids. His death was a freak accident, a tragic medical emergency that happened at the worst possible time.

Another neighbor and friend was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She had managed to beat breast cancer, and her reward for a lifetime of fighting was a terminal diagnosis? It was impossibly cruel. You don’t want to consciously grieve for the living, it’s too early and presumptuous, but you do anyway.

We had many other close calls. Loved ones ended up in the hospital with COVID and worse. Heart issues we thought fixed for at least a year are back. A fall down the stairs that makes us reconsider everything.

Last night my grandmother – my Memere – fell out of her bed. She had been suffering from dementia for several years, and in her confusion she injured herself very badly. This morning she died. We grieved.

I’ve come think upon is how we grieve, and what we grieve for and why. Not just for the death or loss of loved ones, but more abstract areas of life. We grieve when things change, but especially when they end.

Last year my wife and I made the decision to move from the house we built together for over a decade back to where we grew up. We grieved for the things we’d miss – our friends and neighbors, our house, the river, the mountains, Huxdotter coffee, Fred Meyer.

In January of last year an online community I had been apart of since I was 13 years old shut down. How much can a message board mean to someone? A lot, actually. These were people I grew up with. They helped me get started in my new career, they were a huge source of inspiration and funding for Village Monsters and other projects I’ve worked on.

I grieved for it too.

I’ve had a lot of practice now, and I’ve come to appreciate grief as a skill.

It seems crazy and overdramatic to think of grief during the times my computer shuts off unexpectedly during a storm, causing me to lose everything I worked on. Or when I’m working on a project only for a bugged algorithm require me to refactor the entire thing.

But it feels like I’m using the same muscle. The frustration, anger, sadness, and feeling of helplessness are far less pronounced, but they are similar nonetheless. As I get better at grieving the big losses of life, I’ve found it’s easier to brush off the smaller problems.

I didn’t respond to the problems of 2022 very well, so I’ve been trying to look at the brighter side of things. It’s not easy. It is, in fact, frequently impossible. But this realization on grief feels like a win.

When my Memere passed this morning, I did not cry. I will at her funeral, and in the moments later. But for now I reflected on my favorite memories, the times we walked together, rode in her beloved PT Cruiser, took pictures of landscapes, and talked about how to best swear in French. This is how I’m grieving, at least for now.

Grief is the bridge to cross from one part of life to another. It’s not so scary to walk over it anymore.