Skip to main content

Finding Solace in the Audacity of Grief.....

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear---- C.S. Lewis


*****   *****   *****


Grief is a funny thing. It's doesn't matter what you try to do, or how you try to define it--- it does its thing, its own way, in its own time.

Everybody has to endure it, in one form or another, time and time again--- it's as much a part of life as breathing.

And, while enduring grief, everybody does their own thing, their own way, in their own time.


--------------------------

My parents spent their entire working lives as nurses. They were LPNs at a skilled nursing home for nearly all of my childhood. It was expected that most, if not all, of their patients would spend their final days within those sterile halls. Perhaps it was less expected that my parents would feel the need to attend the memorials for their patients...baby brother and I in tow. Nevertheless, I have just as many funeral memories as I do Christmas-Morning memories.

I've heard it told that, as a result of walking past so many open caskets so young, my innocent mind somehow correlated the fact that every deceased individual had gray/white hair. Ergo, as soon as someone's hair turned gray/white, he or she was going to die.

Such was my distress, that my father (in his late 30's, maybe early 40's, and from whom I inherited the genes for premature graying) was forced to dye his hair...and keep it dyed, for years, to prevent me from panicking...

I don't remember this, but, like I said---grief's a funny thing.

Like everyone else in the world, I've had my fair share of loss-- friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, my (so far) only child, and now my mother.

I've been to more funerals than I can count. As young children, our parent's frog-marched my brother and I to every funeral event---whether a relative or not---instructing us in the expected behaviors at such events. Most of the early funerals I attended, I didn't even know the unfortunate individual, except maybe by name....

And, though I've often joked about my morbid fascination with death-- as many of my writings have some form of death at its core-- it isn't as if I went out seeking death as a means of forming my personality. Death was always there.

I've been brought to my knees twice by someone's passing. I've felt beyond repair two other times. I've refused to step near the open coffin a handful of times--knowing that my vivid, near-eidetic, memory would never allow me to forget their image in death.

Even when I was born-- an event that should keep thoughts of tragedy the farthest from someone's mind-- death was still nearby. In the same hospital, separated from me by a mere 3 floors, and an hour (perhaps less) after my appearance in this world, my father's step-father---a man more closely resembling a father than his actual father ever did--- passed away from cancer. He hung around to welcome me, but, never got to see me. Except, perhaps, in the passing of our conscious awareness in this world, as his departed and mine awoke.

One of the things that I find so gut-wrenchingly terrifying about death (other than the fact that death itself is well ... terrifying) is the unpredictability of it all. I know everyone's death is inevitable. But, I can't, with any assurance, know how I'll react. Something about my controlled, scientific nature wants, more than anything, to establish some kind of order from the chaos that death stirs. Every ounce of my being rails against the injustice of such uncertainty. I am so afraid of opening the doors because I know how all-consuming this crap can be. But, I'm just as afraid to not open those doors, lest I drown.

I've lain prostrate for a week before--no words spoken--only to wake up completely fine on day 8. I've barely batted an eye during one funeral, only to beat a hole in the wall with my fist 2 days later. I've watched someone pass their last few breaths, their unseeing eyes fixed on mine, with no comfort I could offer other than the assurance that it was okay for them to 'let go.'

It's hard NOT to be impacted by death. But, it's infinitely harder, to put yourself in a position to NEVER have the opportunity to be impacted by death.

A weakness (for those who wish to call it such) of our nature is to seek company-- partners, friends, lovers...enemies. Even the most hermitic and misanthropic often seek the calming pulse of another... perhaps a cat or a dog...something else to interact with. Barring any chemical or physiological reason for their isolation, it's perhaps their exposure to death itself that prompted them to hide away---to protect themselves---it would be something I would do, if I thought I was strong enough to do it.

But, is it any real means of protection?

At least, in the grieving, I know the person whose life I am mourning, somehow touched mine. And, in the grieving, I honor their memory by holding it tighter than I ever have.

It just seems so unfair that the price we pay for love is a bottomless well of grief. I can almost understand the determination to detach oneself from the life happening around you, out of fear of facing that same bottomless well, over and over again.

But, there is no real solace in solitude. Not when the solitude is a way of hiding from the pain of getting close to someone. The REAL solace is in facing the fear of loss by opening yourself up to lose again---by bringing others into your life. The courage it takes to hold tight to those you know you will lose and who will lose you someday doesn't protect you from grief. In fact, it opens you up to even more grief. But, in our grieving, we move forward---even if we're convinced of our inability to do so. We move forward IF we remember to define our lives by more than just our pain, if we remember to hold onto the memories, if we remember to wake up and breathe--- we'll find there's more life out there. Of course, in finding the more life out there, we'll find peace and happiness---if, just for awhile. But, isn't that worth it? I think so.









Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I is for...

... Iron Maiden


The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe


---and not the English heavy metal band from East London...

Day 2 in the realm of morbid/macabre torture devices finds us back in the Middle Ages (there was definitely a fashionable trend of imaginative torture devices during this time). Though, the Middle Ages isn't really when we should be turning our attention when we discuss the Iron Maiden. In fact, there has been some debate as to the exact appearance of this monstrous creation.

It's probably easiest to relocate such a torturous thing back to a time when it seemed everyone was as skilled at exacting a confession as they were at creating the tools to exact those confessions. It's easier to blame ancestors from several hundred years ago than to accept that anyone of civilized disposition would be capable of doing such horrible things with such terrif…

V is for...

... Vrolik Museum



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ---Edgar Allan Poe




How about a morbid museum?

Still used by the medical faculty and students at the University of Amsterdam, the Vrolik Museum is a unique collection of odd bones and skulls, pathogenic specimens, and an assortment of anomalous embryos.

The collection was amassed by Dutch anatomist, Gerardus Vrolik (1775-1859) and continued by his son, Dutch anatomist and pathologist, Willem Vrolik (1801-1863). And since Willem's death, various donations have expanded the collection even further. Most specimens are human, though a few zoological specimens have trickled into the collection. Preserved remains, plaster casts, and various models show an assortment of congenital deformities and malformations.

This is one of those places that isn't for the faint of heart---certainly not for those who are easily moved or triggered by…

Y is for Yeth Hound.....

Yeth Hound--- one of the incarnations of the "Black Dog" myth, this one located specifically, in Devon, England.

"Black Dogs" appear in myths across the world, most are associated with death and bad omens... i.e. Hell Hounds.

The Yeth Hound is said to be the spirit of an unbaptised child that takes the form of a headless black dog. The Hound wanders the woods at night making pitiful wailing sounds (though, I'm unclear as to how it makes wailing sounds without having a head).

The Black Dogs were possibly one inspiration from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ghost dog in The Hound of the Baskervilles-- "an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen."



Heed Not, the Lonesome Cry
Heed not, the lonesome cry, the baleful wail echoing through the woods. Seek not, the black hound's sigh, look not where the headless creature stood.
One sound, your limbs will shake, your heart filled with the deepest dread. One glimpse, your sou…