Coping Ugly: A Timeline of Grief

Written by Colby Carlson


But First: An Explanation

On May 2nd, 2018 my best friend died. He was funny, neurotic, and had the tiniest little legs.

Oh… and he was a dog. A 15 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi to be exact. He was sweet and kind and the biggest asshole I have ever met. He was the physical manifestation of unconditional love. In his eyes you were always the best version of yourself. No matter what, Corky the Corgi was always in your corner.

I don't cope well. Let's just say 'being an adult' isn't 'one of my strong suits' and 'maybe I have a string of unhealthy coping mechanisms I've picked up over the years to compartmentalize a series of traumas'... and leave it at that.

One of the healthier coping mechanisms I've latched on to is writing. Sketches, poetry, shitty rap lyrics in the vein of 21 Pilots that I will never show anyone and will actually die if they were to somehow leak to the world. It calms me down. There's something so therapeutic about simply putting words onto paper and never looking back. Just... allowing words to exist in a place other than your mind.

 When Corky died I coped in a myriad of ways, most of which were unhealthy, one of which was writing. I have collected 5 specific days from that shaky, terrifying, grammatically incorrect time in my life and present them to you today. I don't know why, exactly, but I think it's got something to do with my own closure. Maybe I just want to feel validated in my grief. Mostly, I want you to know how important Corky was to me.

It's unedited and completely manic at times but it helps paint an image of the forces I fought while screaming into the void.

Mom - I apologize in advance if any of this stresses you out.

Day 1: Untitled, Just Now

Writing about grief is...

Okay you know that moment in Harry Potter 5 when Umbridge forces them to write with the quills that cut into the back of their hand?

It's not that dramatic. but it sucks.

I don't know what to write about to express myself but I have this panicked feeling that I need to be writing. There's probably some shitty metaphor in there but i've barely got the energy to pick up this grilled cheese let alone craft a shitty description of grief.

Maybe I just need to think out-loud somewhere other than my head. Thats been the hardest part-- I don't know why but i've completely shut myself off emotionally from everyone

I'm usually annoyingly open with the way I feel.

Now I step out of the room to cry so people's only image of me is sad, not weak

When did I decide crying was weak? this has been the hardest experience of my life so far I think.

I'm sorry for the grammar. structure isn't speaking well to the words in my chest right now

I can do anything on my own.

I can't even write the words of what happened. I'll get there though. I did it all on my own. I was there the whole time, so he wouldn't be scared.

God speaking vaguely about this makes me sound like a psychopath.

I'm so far behind in my classes now. God I hope my teachers show me some mercy and let me graduate. My parents are going to kill me if I miss honors graduation

It feels good to put words to screen. Even if this really is just stream of consciousness. It's therapeutic. Forward. Through and forward.

The darkness only lasts as long as you allow it.

Day 4: Blisters

This is going to be a sad ass post

I feel like i'm sitting in fog waiting for the day to start. the sunset cut through hours ago yet still i sink into the same spot, emptier now. overly poetic, self indulgent language makes it easier to avoid the burns but cool words still cant bandage blisters. not these at least.

They say the callus that comes after will make me stronger but bloodied skin seems to be a steep price for experience

I don’t want what most people want when they grieve. i want freedom. i want thoughts focused on the future and what comes next and how to build good credit. i want nothing to do with anyone that feels sad. move forward, move through. standing still was never a strong suit of mine.

I hope to find peace. not peace of mind more peace of sentience. i'm here. you're not anymore. i need to be able to sleep in my bed again. i'm so tired.

I'm so tired, bubba.

No one ever tells you what comes after the moment you obsessively worry about. im starting to realize no one really knows.

I put down my dog on Wednesday the blisters are still fresh.

Day 35: Changes, or A little bit of Light in the Dark

Well, my whole world has been flipped upside-down a couple of times in the past few months. So, May 2nd, my dog died. That's the last time you heard from me; I was pretty broken up about


Then, June 2nd my sister had her first child, my first nephew, Harrison, and he is the tops. He has completely changed the way I view the world and people and what it means to actually love someone. I love that boy with all my heart and have really started taking care of myself since he came around. That kid is such a blessing.

THEN, July 5th I moved out to LA. I'm sitting in my new room, writing this on my bed because my desk hasn't gotten here yet and I'm too ADD to sit in the living room.

I went from a shitty college party apartment to a wonderful two bedroom with two grown men and the transition has been W O N D E R F U L.

 EVERYTHING IS CLEAN. There's no more grime on the floors, or vomit residue in the bathroom, or old beer cans everywhere. It's just 3 adults (one of which is trying very hard to fool the others into thinking he's a real adult) living in a cool part of town, in a cool city, pursuing cool career paths.

 All I'm saying is that I'd watch this TV show.

 I'm on day 4 of working out consistently and I feel great! I've been eating healthy, not drinking on the weekdays, only acting irresponsible after I complete my daily "to-do's"-- I feel like I'm

actually taking control of my life for once.

I still haven't gone out to perform in the city yet but I'm saving that hurdle for the weekend. It'll be my one "to-do". I'm incredibly anxious to introduce my style to a community I know literally nothing about. I have a very goofy, happy-go-lucky stage persona which could easily be annoying as hell to an audience if the set doesn't start right.

I'll figure it out. I finally feel like I'm returning to me. Different now, of course, but the world doesn't feel so heavy anymore. It's starting to feel less... empty. I can do this.

Through and forward. Through and forward.


Day 59: Unemployment, or A Change in Mentality

Getting a job is a motherfucker.

You'd think it'd be easier to get a job, you know, since they told us once we got a degree the world was ours for the taking.


 Here I am, writing a blog, in the middle of the day, for free.

But hey, at least y'all are cool and wont judge me. Or, at least, haven't reached out to inform me of your judgements.

 I've learned a few things since I dove into the real world:

●    No one wants to hire someone without experience


●    Bills are the only constant in this chaos world

●    It's really easy to memorize the lyrics to the hit musical Hamilton when it's literally all you do all day

●    I miss having money but being broke means less stress to look nice or pay for things

●    The news is fucked and I'm SO ready to not have the free time to compulsively watch it all the time

 It's all frustrating, it's all stupid, and one day it will all be worth it. That's really the lesson I've been clinging to throughout all of this. It will be worth it.

The grind sucks but I love what I've chosen to pursue as a career and these shitty gigs are just more opportunities to grow my network and expand my skill set.

 Silver Lining Mentality.

The storm is loud, it's constant, and it destroys much of what it touches. But it also brings new life, new perspective, and a new future.

We don't always get to choose the future we are thrust into. I am lucky enough to be choosing what my chaos will be.

It will be worth it.


 Day 90: Coping Ugly, or I Wrote This Black Out Drunk

 Losing someone hits you like a bus.

 And then... it doesn't.

It's not that you don't address the reality of what happened. It's just that your body can't physically take the strain, so... it doesn't. You process through as though you're reading a book. You take in daily interactions as if you viewed it on television-- it's all so... empty.

 Today, I discovered the hardest part of the grieving process.

It's not the moment of loss. It's not the days after. It's not even during the memorial services where you're forced to cope in whatever way your societal group has deemed 'okay'.

The hardest part of the grieving process is:

 The moment you realize you can't remember your loved one's nuance.

 It's encountering the fact that-- no matter how hard you try-- the feelings you associate with that person will become faint memories. No matter what you do, your daily norm will adapt and grow and leave them behind. Honestly, if you had any say you'd live in the moments just after their death because that's the only time anyone gives you pause to grieve.

 We allot three WHOLE weeks. One week to process.

One week to handle the ceremonies.

One week to gather yourself.

 Then, it's back off to the real world because no one wants to feel bad your sorry ass anymore. "I mean, we gave them 3 weeks right? Sure, trauma sucks, but at some point you have to assimilate back into the 'real world'."

Fuck you.

None of this is easy. None of this comes naturally. It's like jumping out of the nest and being

able to fly, only to watch your siblings crash to the ground. You can function -- but every fiber of your being tells you not to.

It comes in waves. It's hits you when you think you've got it locked down. It happens just after you see a picture that captures a fragment of their soul or read a tweet that reflects exactly what their personality was...

The world has a nasty way of ensuring you don't forget.


You don't want to forget. You want to live, and cherish, and use the love they gave you to uplift their memory and create a better world because they showed you how to give.

Taught you how to give.

Everything is different now. And it fucking sucks.

Yet, the most beautiful part of losing a loved one is that they left us with every tool we need to forge the future.

And we will.

We. will.


 Today - 10/18/2018

I can’t tell you everything is fixed and the world is better for me now. Not yet. I’m still hurting. But... I'm getting better everyday. I'm learning and growing and crying and laughing and figuring out how to cope in ways that launch me forward rather than hold me back.

 I am a better person because of this pain. I've learned to love faster and judge slower. I've learned to take care of myself not just physically but mentally and emotionally for the sake of the people that I love. I want to be around to see my nephew's first steps, his first days of school, and to nurse him through is first heartbreak. I want to help make sure my friends never feel this way, or help them see that their pain is justified and entirely normal. I want to get better.

For anyone else grieving: It sucks. It's going to suck for a while. You will be okay. Take it from the world’s worst griever-- you’re doing just fine.

Hopefully you saw some of yourself in these words and it eased that loneliness just a little bit. Reading things like this helped me a lot in the days after I lost my friend.

If no one else has said it lately;

I love you and I hope you're eating enough.

Thanks for reading.

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