“GRIEF GLASSES”

LOS­ING A LOVED ONE CHANGED THE WAY AC­TRESS BEANIE FELDSTEIN SEES THE WORLD

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How Books­mart star Beanie Feldstein sees the world dif­fer­ently af­ter los­ing a loved one

It is im­pos­si­ble. Grief is just im­pos­si­ble. It can­not be con­tained or sum­ma­rized or en­closed. To de­scribe the wound grief leaves if you have not ex­pe­ri­enced it is to come to it hazy and out of fo­cus. But then there are those of us that un­for­tu­nately see grief in sharp, un­re­lent­ing fo­cus. About a year ago, Jor­dan Feldstein passed very sud­denly and un­ex­pect­edly. He was a re­mark­ably gen­er­ous, in­tel­li­gent, lov­ing per­son. He was an in­cred­i­ble fa­ther, beloved by his boys. He was a deeply de­voted son. He was a bril­liant creative mind. And he was my big­gest brother. He gave me so many things, in­clud­ing my name. In this past year, I have learned an im­mea­sur­able amount about the band­width of my own heart. The pain is so un­bear­able at times, so un­remit­ting. Yet, in ad­di­tion to the del­uge of feel­ings leak­ing out of me at all times, I have found the process of grief ( be­cause it is and will al­ways be a process, never fin­ished, never con­cluded) to be just as res­o­nant in my mind as it is in my heart.

It’s like all of a sud­den, a pair of glasses were strapped to my face. And I can’t take them off. Ever. And th­ese glasses make me see the world dif­fer­ently than I did be­fore. The col­ors bleed to­gether more vividly. But they are some­how more than they ever were be­fore. More vis­ceral. More vi­brant. More present. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously more awe inspiring and more aching. Some

times I can push the glasses to the end of my nose so I can peer over them to see the world the way I used to see. But I can only see over or around to my old per­spec­tive. I can never see it to­tally as it was ever again.

That is the as­pect of grief I had no idea was com­ing. This mon­u­men­tal shift in per­spec­tive. Not only does the world be­come so much deeper and more painful, but some­times un­be­liev­ably alive with joy and grat­i­tude. And those two pre­vi­ously op­pos­ing con­cepts are now merged, now barely dis­tin­guish­able. There is a whole new layer of my own per­son­hood, but also a broad­ened hu­man­ity, that I could not see be­fore. Th­ese glasses that were forced on me, grudg­ingly gave me the abil­ity to see and ap­pre­ci­ate a more in­tri­cate un­der­stand­ing of this vast world we live in.

And when you find oth­ers that have ex­pe­ri­enced this shift, oth­ers that wear the same pre­scrip­tion, there is an in­stant bond. There is this pro­found feel­ing of con­nec­tion, not only be­cause you both have ex­pe­ri­enced that pain, but be­cause you also see the rest of life dif­fer­ently than ev­ery­one else. It is not only an ac­knowl­edge­ment of shared emo­tion, but a recog­ni­tion of shared lived per­spec­tive.

Oh what I would give to never have had this shift hap­pen. What I would give to take the grief glasses off of loved ones, co­work­ers, ac­quain­tances, strangers. But I can­not. All I can do is try to positively ac­knowl­edge the as­pects of the grief glasses that lead to feel­ing real love, hap­pi­ness, and grat­i­tude more presently and more fully. The part of the shift in per­spec­tive that leads you to be im­mensely thank­ful for what you do have.

A year ago, I found my­self un­will­ingly in a new club. Well, new to me. A club that has ex­isted for all eter­nity. A club that I wish did not ex­ist. A club that ev­ery time peo­ple who are not in it don’t help me feel bet­ter, I feel grate­ful that the world hasn’t hurt them. It is a club full of suf­fer­ing and ques­tion­ing, but is also a com­mu­nity of peo­ple that have a truly broad­ened per­spec­tive on the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. And if you are also in the club, please know you are not alone, be­cause I am also a be­grudg­ing mem­ber. And while I wish I could rip my grief glasses off my face and have it all be a dream, I try to rec­og­nize what the glasses have given me: that unique blend of hu­man­ity that is si­mul­ta­ne­ously the dark­est dark and the bright­est bright.

It’s like all of a sud­den, a pair of glasses were strapped to my face. And I can’t take them off. Ever.”

Feldstein stars in Books­mart, in theaters May 24.

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