Grief’s Ring: I Never Saw the Swing

June 18, 2024

I’ve never watched boxing. It’s too violent. I’m too much of an empath to watch something where I know people are being hurt, being injured. I never related to those bold and brave souls that step into the ring knowing there is a chance they’ll not only lose, but be knocked out by the other opponent. Those odds don’t feel great, and even when you win, you’re damaged and sprinkled with wounds that are both visible and also those that aren’t.

I never knew that grief could feel like a boxing ring. I never knew the punches it could throw or the knockouts that would come in ripples– one after the other, after the other.

Then, my mother got cancer and I felt like I was suddenly forced into the ring– grief’s ring. And in the midst of all the pain from her diagnosis and the turmoil on my brain to comprehend it all, I never saw what was coming.

Grief was the ring.
Cancer was the punch.
My mother’s death was the knockout, the ultimate loss.
I didn’t see it coming.

Even in the space that I know causes bruises, blood, and agony, I never saw the swing that would eventually knock me out. The swing that came from my mother’s death– a death so premature, so untimely.

In this fight, I didn’t have time to prepare. Neither did she.

Neither of us had time to put up our defenses, to strap on the gloves, to dodge the punches we should have seen coming. The ones we should have known were coming the moment we heard words like cancer and chemo and life expectancies. But we simply didn’t. Call it deniable, call it blind faith or hopelessness.

We were forced into a ring that neither one of us would survive or step out of the same.
She died and I was knocked out by an injury so deep, so brutal, I stepped out of that space a completely different person– broken by loss and shattered by the incomprehensible fate of losing her, my mother.

When I finally gained consciousness from it all, when I finally could move enough to swing, I did.

I swung and I swung and I swung, but it was too late. I kept swinging anyway. Punching and hitting and screaming into the nothingness, into the fight that was already over. A fight that couldn’t be won on this side of heaven and life. A fight I’m still angry at the outcome of but living with each and every day. An outcome that cannot be changed or altered, but one that changed and altered me and my entire future.

Grief’s battle is complicated and transformative, some days full of sweat and tears and deep wounds. Other days I plan and prepare for the battle so intentionally it feels like I’ve won— simple moments of joy in the midst of grief feel like a victory.

I never knew grief’s ring, grief’s fight, or grief’s battle until I was thrown into it, unprepared and unprotected. Now that I’ve been tossed into the arena, I’ll forever remain bruised and damaged, but always ready to fight.

Grief will not win. I will.
Death will not win. Love will.

Pain will not chase me to forget, but encourage me to remember. My mother might have lost her battle in that ring, but her legacy emerged and I’m finally stepping out of the battleground to honor it.

xox, Chels

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A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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