This Curious Thing Called Grief

“For in grief nothing “stays put.” One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often — will it be for always? — how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realized my loss till this moment”? The same leg is cut off time after time.” – CS Lewis, A Grief Observed 

As a child, I never understood how one could describe pain. Words like sharp, stabbing, aching. How could I know what I felt was sharp or stabbing? How do we know that what one describes as sharp another might not describe as aching? And isn’t grief a bit like this? Each of us has or will experience it in our lifetime. But how each one of us feels and describes those feelings is always different.

After my husband told the kids my father had passed away, each reacted very differently. My son came upstairs shortly after and gave me a hug. He said, “It’ll be okay Mommy. Do you want me to get you some stuffed animals? How about your owl? Do you want me to warm it up for you?” His tender care brought me the tears I so desperately needed.

My middle daughter came upstairs next. Upon seeing my tears, she burst into tears saying, “Mommy I don’t want to see you sad. I don’t want you to be sad.” I hugged her and told her it was okay.  My oldest came up next and sat on my bed with the others. She was quiet until my middle daughter started getting upset about my crying again. She then expressed her anger at her, frustrated that she was so upset by my crying. She has always said that feeling sad is harder than being mad. When things are really painful she often chooses mad instead of sad.

Grief hits each of us differently. But I’ve found that putting words to it helps. I’ve written before about the impact CS Lewis’s A Grief Observed has had on me. It gave me words for my pain when I lost my brother. And so, I write words now, hoping to get some comfort from the act of putting pen to paper (or more accurately fingers to keyboard). And maybe, my words can give someone else words for their feelings. And in some small way, we connect.

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