Comedian Michael Cruz Kayne shared some extremely powerful personal feelings to Twitter the other day when he tackled the immense topic of grief.
Ten years ago, Kayne lost his infant son. And ten years ago, he learned that speaking openly about his deep and complicated grief would not be easily understood by people who generally want to “tip-toe” around and send “cards with calligraphy on them.” So, true, huh?
In general, society tends to shut down or get weird when it comes to the mention of grief. We find it uncomfortable, and so people tend to grieve privately without having a way to express the immensity of the loss and all the facets around it. And we force one another to go back to work or socializing, expecting one another to get back to being the ‘regular’ pre-death people we were before. But we never return to normal because grief changes us.
In a book, The Other Side of Grief, grief is “hidden in the nooks of your house for you to unexpectedly stumble upon, and becomes a part of you forever.”
So when Kayne took to Twitter to discuss his loss — and the complex, weird, and sometimes indescribable grief that came along with it — it’s like he gave voice to what so many of us have felt but couldn’t describe.
this isn't really what twitter is for, but ten years ago today my son died and I basically never talk about it with anyone other than my wife. it's taken me ten years to realize that I want to talk about it all the time.— MCK (@CruzKayne) November 19, 2019
this is about grief
In the 14 tweets that follow, Kayne describes the fact that he’s had to hide his feelings in the shadows, as people generally don’t understand the multifaceted nature of grief. Instead, people just get weird and send cards.
most of the conversations we have about grieving are very very weird. tragedy is still so taboo, even in the era of the overshare. it's all very *sorry for your loss* and tilted heads and cards with calligraphy on them and whispering. we're all on tiptoes all the time.— MCK (@CruzKayne) November 19, 2019
He then goes on to describe, viscerally and unapologetically, the many emotions of grief — from anger to the comedic.
It may be hard to read some of the below tweets, just so you know. They’re pretty graphic, and they’re complex.
but there is more! some things make me angry: when the hospital prepared us for his death, one of the doctors kept saying "your daughter" repeatedly until I said through gritted teeth "he is a boy".— MCK (@CruzKayne) November 19, 2019
some things make me confused: we cremated our son. how the fuck does that work? like, what are steps one through ten of that process?— MCK (@CruzKayne) November 19, 2019
some things make me laugh: the funeral home handed us a receipt after our son's funeral that said "thank you come again" at the bottom.
He even mentions raising his other child in a household where death is openly discussed, where the children write letters to their lost brother.
and they both have a sister, who asked us to put an extra candle in her brother's birthday cake, and who led us in writing a story about her dead brother tonight— MCK (@CruzKayne) November 19, 2019
(and yeah we talk about our dead son with our living kids all the time because idk that's what we decided to do?)
While every culture, individual and family is going to treat death and dying differently, plenty of support resources suggest talking openly about death. Because sometimes speaking your feelings allowed helps you process them.
Kayne says that, simply, sadness seems to be the only thing people understand about grief and loss.
not a single person has ever been unkind about my son, but almost no one considers the fullness of his loss and how complicated and weird and everything else it was and continues to be.— MCK (@CruzKayne) November 19, 2019
having just recently started talking to other grievers, I know many of them feel the same.
The fullness of grief, as Kayne says, is often lost on most of us — and maybe we can be better about that, somehow? Maybe the key is to make space for people to talk about all of it. The fact that so many people — 233,000 people exactly — responded to the thread, says that many of us are ready to do just that.
Very sorry for your loss.— Proud Bernie Residue 🌹 (@Mackeyser) November 20, 2019
Unfortunately, I understand this all too well. My daughter died 23 years ago and I think about her every day.
I've counseled a few parents who've lost children and part of that is being brutally honest up front that we don't do grief well...at all.