Please Don’t Ask If I Have a Job Now (And Other Grief-Sensitive Things)

The past few months has opened my eyes and my mind to the other side of life, which is death. Death is complicated to talk about, mainly because we are afraid of its inevitability. But to be in the position where Death has approached a loved one–without consulting with me if I was okay with such a meeting–and led them over to the other side, I cannot ignore the thought of mortality.

When Death left with my loved one, It introduced me to Grief, Pain, and Depression. Three Guests I never asked for, but cannot politely ask to leave. But for the past few months, I have been learning how to handle these three characters. But it is never easy because, once in a while, someone from the outside will ask me questions. And Grief, Pain, and Depression will nudge me to get upset about these questions. How dare these people ask me what I am up to? Don’t they know what I am going through? Did they forget? Why am I being asked to leap forward instead of taking my time to learn to stand up again? 

But I am not about to tell you that I have complete control over the new Guests. I am still coping with what Death has done to me and my family. But I will tell you the answers to those questions that people have been asking me during this process of grieving.

No, I do not have a job right now. Yes, I am “fresh out of college,” and by now, I should be either looking for a job or working part-time somewhere. But I am not being lazy. I do not feel inferior about my bachelor’s degree or majors of study (FYI, an English major is very marketable, if you know what to do with it). I do not have a job right now because I do not feel emotionally and spiritually ready to do and show my best work. This is something I have difficulty explaining to anyone because, of course, it is case-sensitive. Generally, I do not want to make anyone uncomfortable with my situation. But to be someone who is grieving, I have every right to tell you why I feel I cannot do certain things like before.

Yes, I plan on applying to graduate school next year. I definitely want to take my curiosity and quest for knowledge even further. But again, I need time for myself, to heal and to feel emotionally and spiritually ready to do and show my best work. What gives me solace are reading books, watching movies and TV shows, walking around nice landscapes, browsing for items in stores, and talking to people I am comfortable being with. The more I work on myself, the better I will be to present myself to the grand world.

No, I do not have a boyfriend. I honestly do not think it is of anyone’s business, unless you are my parents or my best friend (for they are the only ones allowed to make judgements about him). As of now, my love life is the least of my concerns. There will be time for dating later on. But again, I need this time to learn how to love myself. I need this time to understand why I love my family. I need time to figure out who has stayed with me–through my anger, my sorrow, and my joy–and if I am willing to stay with them for the same reasons.

And the most important thing to keep in mind:

No, I am not an only child. I never was an only child, and I never will be. I do not care about technicalities, with regards to family dynamics. By calling me “the only child,” you are erasing the 22 years I have shared with my brother in siblinghood. I remember when my brother used to be obsessed with World Wrestling Federation and wanted to practice Kane’s “choke slam” maneuver… on his tiny 5-year-old sister. (It never happened, thankfully.) I also remember going out with my brother to watch a movie and eat afterwards, alternating who would pay for which. He was not the perfect sibling, but he lived up to the expectations of one. By calling me “an only child,” you are also erasing the memories of my parents that have sacrificed everything to ensure that my brother could live, despite his medical condition. This is an especially difficult time for my mother and my father–they are grieving as parents who did everything for their first child. And they absolutely did their best. Give them credit for that. With regards to me, their youngest, that is between me and them. Let us be.

I may sound like I am full of contempt. Sure. But I cannot afford to excuse myself for being angry or upset or depressing. I am aware that “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” but let me get there at my own pace, at my own time. I will know it when I see it. Let me get there, please.

But this does not mean we cannot talk. Of course, I would like to talk like a normal person. From what I have learned, one of the best ways to cope with having the Guests is to talk… about anything. To remind myself that there is still a life to live and to enjoy.

Alternative questions to ask:

  • How are you feeling today?
  • Have you seen Deadpool yet? Do you plan to watch it? What other movies are you excited to see this year?
  • Do you think Leonardo DiCaprio will win an Oscar this year?
  • What are your plans for this weekend? this month? (Keep it to the near future, please.)
  • Have you read any good books lately?
  • Where is the best place to eat Japanese food?
  • Is The Dress blue/black or gold/white? (It’s definitely blue and black.)
  • Do you “Feel The Bern”? (Yes.)

And of course, I would also like to talk about my brother. Ask me about his passion for LEGO. Ask me why he thinks Sith Lords are better than Jedi Knights. Ask me if he considered himself a foodie and if he would have tried out this particular food spot. Ask me anything about what my brother was like. I am comfortable about telling you who he was, from my point of view. If it wasn’t for my brother, I would not have the personality that I have now. I would not have been proud to call myself a “nerd” or a “geek”. I would not be who I am today if it had not been for him. As much as you think it is inappropriate to talk about my brother, I am telling you that it is okay to ask me about him.

At least, that is how to keep the Guests quiet.

One response to “Please Don’t Ask If I Have a Job Now (And Other Grief-Sensitive Things)”

  1. You wrote and expressed an honest, profoundly beautiful, pure thoughts and feelings, Nini. Thank You very much. Just like I have told you, reassured you, TAKE YOUR TIME.. Time, energy, plans, the future are in your hands, GOD’S GIFTS were given to you. We love you so much. Your beloved brother is very proud of you, too. Never forget that.


Say something…

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: