Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Four Dead Men Teach Us About Grief

“The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to them alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)
There are inconsolable times in life that are just too raw. For this reason it is only fair to consider various forms of grief – separating out profound grief so plastic platitudes are never flippantly delivered.
When I, years ago, attended an unconscious lady, trying with others to revive her, I wondered serenely what kind of person she was; her lifeless body but a shadow of the spirit of the person that lay deep within. At her loss several hours later, she was gone, never to grace the stage of life again – absolutely and irretrievably lost, indeed! For her family how must it have been adjusting to life without her?
How do we possibly reconcile acute grief?
Well, it’s understandable that some days will pass harmlessly by whilst others will be tormented with incredulous thoughts that are barely containable. All that could be done, truly, is to take the day as it comes – knowing with some distant knowledge that one day the sun will warm our souls again.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) once said:
“Sorrow makes us all children again – destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.”
Grief is a leveller. We could be forgiven for thinking this depth of emotion was beyond any fellow human being; it seems so impossible. It is of some pale relief to know others are going through just as bad, if not worse. But for some, what they deal with is the worst! The worst possible thing has happened.
Know, however, that:
“Grief is itself a medicine.”
— William Cowper (1731–1800), Charity
If you were the one grieving you might be thinking this pithy quote is a platitude – a stinking cliché.
But the truth is grief – whilst being impossibly difficult – is often the nexus of new life. It can be afterward – long afterward. Grief softens us. It makes us more human if we don’t deny the pain. It makes us more compassionate and more reachable and more teachable.
Yet, this won’t help the person in deep grief in the slightest, I suspect.
Being in the heart-rending state of acute grief numbs us. As we sleep we don’t want to wake. This, below, takes us into the imagery of the heart:
“Grief is a dark, lonely, private room with the curtains drawn, where cherished memories of laughter and tears dance with angels in the cathedral of the heart. No one may enter. None are welcome. No words penetrate its walls or ease the pain that fills it. The door remains locked until the will pries it open to allow the helpless, well-meaning, outside world to enter and interrupt its sanctity.”
— Billy Thorpe (1946–2007)
How hard to write on a subject where words are totally meaningless.
Yet, my own experiences of grief led me to search. And we search much reading media. Sometimes we find what we’re after, sometimes not.
The main thing, in the shrill of raw and cogently impactful grief, is don’t give up – though for a day or two you might; don’t give up hope totally. One day at a time you will climb your way out of it.
Life may never be as it was, but it will be good again. You’ll see.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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