Sunday, April 21, 2013


Here’s what I know about grief.

Grief is not linear.
With apologies to Doctor Who, I borrow from his explanation of time: It isn’t linear. It’s a wibbly wobbly ball of timey whimey stuff. By that I mean it takes an unpredictable path. When we are struck by loss, there is often a delay, a numbness, a sense of disbelief or shock. There was an editor at the newspaper where I worked whose theory was to interview those affected immediately, before the shock wore off. 

I know, it sounds cruel on its face, but it really is the most compassionate way. And as someone sent to talk to parents of child killed by a school bus before their very eyes, lost in a fire et al, I was grateful. (BTW: I would often throw up before knocking on those doors, yet almost always those at the heart of the tragedies were glad to talk about the loved one.)
After it sinks in, grief comes in waves. You feel as if you are drowning, only to find a length of placid respite. But it returns unbidden, without warning. Just when you think it’s behind you, it sloshes overhead, threatening to pull you under.

Time is not relevant. The above pattern can repeat for seconds, decades or lifetimes.

Grief is not proportional
People can be rendered as non-functional by the loss of pet as a person. I once found that hard to believe. But no more. I’ve seen it. Loss is loss. And a so-called minor loss can trigger unresolved grieving issues. I am reminded of a MASH episode in which tough-minded head nurse Margaret Houlihan remains seemingly untouched by a serious of deaths until the loss of a mangy stray dog sends her into hysterics of grief. 

Grief cannot be anticipated.
Here, I am reminded of Shirley Maclaines’s character in Terms of Endearment after her daughter dies a difficult death from breast cancer. After watching her child suffer, she cries that she expected to feel relief at its end. Yet she experiences only overwhelming sorrow and loss. Grief, guilt and regret are a treacherous trio.

Grief is often subtle, a chameleon.
It can take the shape of illness, depression, excess, addiction, anger or even overarching ambition—anything that throws life out of balance. I’ve been unable to overcome a respiratory infection for weeks, causing me to consider if it’s connected to the recent loss of Abbie, my cat of 18 years.

Grief is contagious.
Just look around you this week, from the Boston Marathon to Texas, grief and its repercussions are impossible to ignore.

Grief is a four-letter word: loss
It’s a word that unites us all.


Jr. Williams said...

How to buy/install Sheet Metal Roofing?
sarasota metal roof

Emy Watson said...

do you really need heating cables for the roof repair?
Monroe roofing