On Grief

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.  We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death.  We miscontrue the nature of even those few days or weeks…We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind.  We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss.  We do not expect to be literally crazy…In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.”  A certain forward movement will prevail.  The worst days will be the earliest days.  We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place…we wonder about failing to “get through it”, rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death…We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue…Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”   ~Joan Didion, from The Year of Magical Thinking

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3 thoughts on “On Grief

  1. I cannot begin to even express how raw and true this is. A close friend of mine said she once tried to imagine the grief, the shock I experienced in losing my mother. I couldn’t stop myself from saying with painful sincerity, “Don’t try. Because it’s so much worse, so much more unsettling than you can begin to imagine. Just enjoy that you have your parents today.” Everything without her is bittersweet–the big things, like my brother’s graduation, his first date, and the mundane things, like watching Project Runway without her, not being able to show her a photo or tell her a story. And then so much that I failed to grasp, even in those early days, that I would no longer hear her voice, hear her stories of me growing up, that she was one of the few people who could tell me things about myself I couldn’t remember. It’s been more than four years, and it still stuns me. The only gift time has given me is the ability to talk about it more openly and the ability to continue experiencing the sweetness of life, rather than letting grief make me into something dead, too.

    • Angelique ~ You’ve always been eloquent and more so in words about your Mother, and your profound understanding of grief, death, and your own experience. Thanks for the company, the insight, and comfort of you being out in the world 😉

      Love and light to you.

      p.s. Love that 30 days of creativity thing!

  2. When my brother passed away, I had no idea before then how tragically it would effect my life. The hole it would leave in me. In an off the cuff way, it’s rather like having kids. As much as people tell you about it, you read up on it, you just will never know the truth of it until you actually experience it. No matter how well you think you have prepared for it, it will inevitably be woefully inadequate to handle the situation.

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