Watching Grief


IMG_2Thank you for the article about Change and Healing. It helped me make sense of my thoughts and feelings. I thought I would share them with you.

Three months ago, a baby died.

Since then, I have been watching grief threaten to overwhelm our family. Its long fingers reach deeper and deeper into who we are, who we were, who we thought we were.
It’s hard to let go, we are clinging on to time. As weeks go by, we are acutely aware that we are moving further and further away from the moments when he was there. Anything that comes between his passing and today is unwelcome and resented.

Grief is leading us. During the initial shock, there seemed to be an energy to lead the way, deciding how we wanted to grieve, how we wanted to remember this little one and how we wanted to remember the moments that surrounded his passing. Now, grief seems to reach a momentum of its own. It seems to be dragging us, not in any specific direction, it’s a downward spiral and a roller coaster at the same time. Perhaps our physical and mental resources are running too low to know which way to go.

Nothing is left untouched, nothing is safe. Events and occasions that used to be simple are now charged with meaning, grief, sadness and the agony of the absence. And events that were tricky before are now downright daunting. You never know when you’ll be caught off guard by an advert on the radio, a lyric, a smile, a comment.

We live in a time warp, we are stretched between the past – how we used to behave before, the present – the sadness, the longing – and the might-have-been or should-have-been, the present not as it is but as we had dreamt it, what we had hoped to do with this baby, what we would be doing if he were here.

It changes the nature of everything. It’s like having a pair of deforming glasses. Everything is seen through the glass of grief, interpreted in the light of grief. Things are no longer seen for what they actually are but for what they remind us of. A gesture of love is avoided because it is a painful reminder of the loss.

We walk on eggshells. We are tense – on the look out for any reminder of our pain that might come up in a conversation or in our lives in general, so that we can move away before it gets too close. In that sense, we’re no longer fully in the present.

The shadow of anger is flying around, it reminds me of the TV programmes where you see some kind of energy shape fly around and suddenly stick to something. Who knows where the anger will land next, it’s never far away!

As we try to avoid suffering, we run the risk of compounding the injury. As we try to avoid the pain, we withdraw, tighten, move away from each other, possibly hurting each other even more. A movement to withdraw from the suffering is so easy to misunderstand and regret.

Despite our willingness to talk to each other, it is so big that it’s difficult to express what we feel. We are caught between our own grief and others’ grief. How do you express what you need while respecting the other person’s grief? How do respect another person’s grief without causing injury to the living? Then there is unspeakable, whose needs must prevail above the others?

I want to grieve as a child. They seem to have a way to take it in their stride, they have a matter of fact way of talking about life and death. So far, they don’t seem to be scared. The circumstances have sheltered them from the entirety of reality and from seeing the grief of all the adults. They also don’t seem take it all in at once, one by one the aspects of death and grief dawn on them and then they process it, then move on. Until the next time.

I want to work on trust, trust in life, in God, in love. Things will work out, there is light, there is hope, and there is a family. This is simply our path and there is a lot to learn on the way.