Despite the universality of death, grief can be a very unique and personal thing. If life can be viewed as a river, a loss of any magnitude will alter the course of the river's flow. It changes us, it changes our lives, and it comes to define us. There is no escaping grief. Even when we feel we've outrun it, it can catch us up when our guard is down, and remind us that it's just over our shoulder. It is insidious and cruel and indiscriminate, dripping its paralysing poison into our ears.
How we deal with that is down to the wiring of the individual.
I saw the power of loss at too young an age. My family suffered a year where four close family members fell like dominoes.
While still grieving a cousin and an uncle, I remain haunted by the memory of hearing the phone ring, a week after the death of my nine month-old niece, and sitting on my mum's bed as she answered it. Numbed and battered, all she had to say before hanging up was a resigned, matter-of-fact, "Thank you for letting me know".
The call had been to tell her my beloved grandad, her father, had taken his own life by stopping the pills which had for years held back the massive heart attack which ultimately consumed him. She didn't have the strength to comfort even me, but by that stage it almost felt routine.