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It was towards the end of my second year of grieving my husband when I first came upon a quote from C.S. Lewis’ 'A Grief Observed'.  I was shocked to find a writer who so evocatively described my pain even as he wrote about his……

The act of living is different all through.  Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.
The only things I knew previously about C.S. Lewis were that he was a very devout Christian, he’d written the Narnia Series (which I didn’t know much about because it wasn’t part of my childhood) and he’d married a Jewish woman in later life, about which I knew a little because I’d seen the Anthony Hopkins/Debra Winger movie The Shadow Lands.  I hadn’t given much thought to him other than that because I figured his devotion to his religion would rule out anything much of interest to me.

Just goes to show how wrong assumptions can be.  And how the pain of grief is Universal.

After coming across that one poignant quote I craved to read more from this erudite writer and purchased 'A Grief Observed' to explore further into his grief expressions, hoping to find solace in more of his descriptions of my profound pain.  And find them I did.  

Tonight’s diary is an exploration of C.S. Lewis’ writings as he journaled his grief over his wife’s death, later published as 'A Grief Observed'.
.

A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room.  We meet every Monday evening.  Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are "mourning" is still alive ("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you.  Share whatever you need to share.  We can't solve each other's problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.

Please do not start or participate in pie-fights in the comments - it is as rude and as uncalled-for as starting an argument at a funeral.  Take it to an open thread.

A link to all previous Grieving Room diaries

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.  I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.  The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning.  I keep on swallowing.
I’m not as restless now as I was during the first year after Russell died but I recognize when I’m heading for another major grieving cycle because I become restless as I try harder and harder to control my environment, my workplace, my life.  And just about when I become a whirling dervish - Bam! - grief stops me in my tracks.  Ha!  All those efforts at ‘control’, they are nothing more than me trying to outrun my grief.  You’d think by now I’d just give up the fight, turn around, shake hands with it and say “ok, what is it this time, let’s have it out”.  But no, I fight feeling that pain just as hard as I ever have.
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed.  There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me.  I find it hard to take in what anyone says.
Yesssss.  That exactly describes how I felt my entire first year of grieving.  I find myself longing at times for that blanket, wishing I could feel more buffered from the rest of the world when “being present in life” is painfully hard.  
This is one of the things I’m afraid of.  The agonies, the mad midnight moments, must, in the course of nature, die away.  But what will follow?  Just this apathy, this dead flatness?  Will there come a time when I no longer ask why the world is like a mean street, because I shall take the squalor as normal?  Does grief finally subside into boredom tinged by faint nausea?
“Boredom tinged by faint nausea”.  How did he know to write this?  That describes me in the aftermath of what I thought would be a delightful people-filled weekend not too long ago.   My Friday night was spent at a waterfront happy hour having dinner with my neighbor and her women friends, and my Sunday was a garden tour with a friend and her relatives.  And I ended the weekend feeling exhausted and, well yes, “faint nausea”.  Things I would have participated in and enjoyed while Russell was alive now irritated me; I had little-to-nothing in common with the happy hour goers, the gardens seemed garish, lacking elegance.  This wasn’t what I expected.  My counselor tells me that the experience of grieving changes one, that I’m not the same person I was when Russell was alive, and it’s likely I’ll never experience things the same way again.  I was proud of myself for scheduling “people time” into that weekend; I’m sobered by the realization that even now, when my “physical energy” has rebounded I must still be careful of my “emotional energy” quotient and plan accordingly.  And I'm angry.  Angry, I tell you!  Because not only has Russell been taken away from me but so too has my expectation of what I can count on to help me feel better in this life here without him.  Damn.
It's not true that I'm always thinking of H.  Work and conversation make that impossible.  But the times when I'm not are perhaps my worst.  For then, though I have forgotten the reason, there is spread over everything a vague sense of wrongness, of something amiss.  Like in those dreams where nothing terrible occurs - nothing that would sound even remarkable if you told it at breakfast-time - but the atmosphere, the taste, of the whole thing is deadly.  So with this.  I see the rowan berries reddening and I don't know for a moment why they, of all things, should be depressing.  I hear a clock strike and some quality it always had before has gone out of the sound.  What's wrong with the world to make it so flat, shabby, worn-out looking?  Then I remember.
I vascillate between resenting the profound pain of grieving while I'm experiencing it and anxiously awaiting its return when I'm not.  At least when I'm grieving I know what's happening to me.  Because when I'm not grieving, and I'm going about my life. and doing well, and Russell isn't front and center in my mind I don't know who I am.  Russell was front and center in my life for 26 years and I know what that looks like, sounds like, feels like.  But a life without all those wonderful things I hold dear?  It's a life koan I don't want to think about.  I'd actually rather be grieving.  Like I said, at least when I'm grieving I know who I am.
And grief still feels like fear.  Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense.  Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen.  It gives life a permanently provisional feeling.  It doesn’t seem worth starting anything.  I can’t settle down.  I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much.  Up till this I always had too little time.  Now there is nothing but time.  Almost pure time, empty successiveness.
And this too describes me.  When Russell was alive I was always full of plans and dreams, always longing for more time to paint, to garden, and many other things.  And now, now when I have all the time in the world, I have this strange lethargy.  Yes, all of those things I wished to do still remain but they are somewhere far behind me, they no longer compel me to reach out and "do".  I tell myself it's because grief continues to take my energy and what energy remains is used up taking care of the needs of living - paying bills, working, etc.  But it's more than that.  I can see the end of my life.  Before Russell died I had that feeling of the infinity of life but now it's real to me that I'm going to die.  And I think about how I will make it through the remaining years of my life without him.  More than one of my widow friends have expressed their frustration at facing years plus of time without their beloved mates, 'almost pure time, empty successiveness';  C.S. Lewis said it so well for us.

Originally posted to The Grieving Room on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers, Anglican Kossacks, DKOMA, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Here's the hosting schedule (52+ / 0-)

    8/20  Moon Womyn

    8/27  Lorikeet

    9/03  TrueBlueMajority

    9/10  Open

    10/8  Open

    10/25  Open

    10/22  LSophia

    10/29  LSophia

    All Mondays are open after 10/29

    If you feel moved to write a diary for The Grieving- please contact Dem in the heart of Texas via kosmail.

    As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

    by FlamingoGrrl on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:02:46 PM PDT

  •  Oh My (20+ / 0-)

    I had never read this part of Lewis' work, and on some level I wish I hadn't read the pats you posted.

    I have become quite comfortable with my grief cocoon, it's well ordered and tidy, I can "just for today" away anything, a survival skill I leaned on desperately especially in the first few years after I lost John.

    The last quote is so true, all the time in the world with no motivation, since I can always do it tomorrow, which never seems to actually arrive...pure suspended animation

    Barn's burnt down -- now I can see the moon. Masahide

    by bws on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:33:28 PM PDT

  •  I have never read this (16+ / 0-)

    but I might need to, given the taste you have shared. Whether or not you enjoy his novels or his Christian writings, it's clear that he knows a thing or two about expressing the grief process.

    I, for one, am comforted reading about the struggles others have had - it makes me feel less alone. I guess that's a big part of the reasoning behind this series...

    Thank you so much, FlamingoGrrl - i really appreciate it!

    Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

    by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:48:42 PM PDT

    •  Oh yes, there are other gems awaiting you. (7+ / 0-)

      As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

      by FlamingoGrrl on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:20:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And surprisingly, (9+ / 0-)

      A Grief Observed isn't as heaped in Christian thought as much as some of Lewis's other works. Rememebr too, in a lighter vein, that Lewis was a member of the Inklings, that venerable group of literary scholars who met at Oxford pubs in the 30s and 40s. Among the membership were J.R. R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. Tolkien wrote of grief and loss so well in The Return of the King, even before he had lost his wife Edith, his Luthien Tinuviel. It is good that there have been erudites who have been able to explain what we feel as we grieve. We would write too but for the heaviness of the hand and heart and even the paper itself.

      My heart is with everyone grieving tonight. May a Perseid meteor streak across your sky--a message of love and hope from your beloveds who, although passed, still watch over you.

  •  What strikes me about CS Lewis (10+ / 0-)

    ...and this work is that by the time he got as far out from the loss as I am from mine, he'd already been dead for a year.

    Lucky man.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:49:18 PM PDT

    •  Yes, I know the feeling. (7+ / 0-)

      But I don't remember, how long has it been for you now?

      As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

      by FlamingoGrrl on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:15:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Four years and one month on Wednesday. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bws, remembrance

        Lewis was always recommended to me as the consummate Christian apologist.  I was surprised at how shallow his arguments turned out to be.

        In "A Grief Observed" he takes the hard look he should've in other books--and blinks until he returns to his fantasy world again.  It was published after just a year--too soon to be of any value to me now.

        I never read the "Narnia" books.  It may be that Lewis is at his best writing fantasy.  Fantasy doesn't do it for me anymore.

        America, we can do better than this...

        by Randomfactor on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:58:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Religious argument (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bws

          can be a ridiculous form of philosophical masturbation, if you will pardon me. Lewis was not above engaging in that--he was surrounded by some of the best literary minds of his British day. Perhaps grief cleared his mind of magical thought? I think A Grief Observed is one of his better works. Narnia was overwrought.

  •  Grief in strange places (11+ / 0-)

    My husband dropped his wedding ring. Not a big deal, you might say. But he couldn't find it. I dropped everything and helped him look for it for an hour.

    Finally he whispered, "I should just give up."

    Give up? Because he dropped his ring, in a place where it would eventually turn up (and did the next morning)?

    "Mom helped me pick it out."

    Yeah. She helped us pick out our rings. She did a lot of things that are coming out in strange ways with us.

    We miss you, Mom.

  •  I read it a few months before Pam died (16+ / 0-)

    Like you write, FG, so much of it rings so true now almost 8 months since she left.

    It's the apathy that I hate so much now.  Just don't care.  Just don't care much about anything.  Trying to be patient with it, let grief work its path through me, but it is so unlike me.  Unlike at least the me I used to be.

    •  "so unlike me" (13+ / 0-)

      Yes, I know that feeling.  Your grief is so recent that with all the energy grieving takes all you have left over is energy enough for the important things.

      Think of your apathy as a safe "grief cocoon".  It will be gone soon enough, trust me.  And if you're like me you might miss having it on occasion.

      As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

      by FlamingoGrrl on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:19:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I read it about a year and a half after (6+ / 0-)

        Sue died, now almost six years ago. My remembrances of reading it are foggy, which I suppose mirrors the state of my life at the time, so thanks for the very well-selected excerpts; what I mostly remember of it is the vague, formless futility of everything in life, the feeling that I can still function, still go through the motions, but that the reason to care about it is gone, and there's just this intangible but pervasive feeling of why bother? I remember two things very vividly at the time, though, which I stumbled upon as things I would not have imagined. The first was that I had a very strange feeling of wanting to have people around, like in the house, but I wanted them to leave me alone. I suppose my aloneness was partly placed in perspective by seeing other people living their lives, but I couldn't yet come to grips with what that meant in terms of the emptiness in my own. The other thing that caught me off guard was realizing, after Sue died, that I would never hear her voice again. I was at work, and something amusing happened, and I thought, of an instant, "I need to call Sue - she'll get a kick out of this" - and, just that quickly, I knew I would never call Sue, or talk to her, again. I suppose it was just shortly after that when I finally took her cell phone number off my contacts list in mine.

        Off topic - I wonder if anyone has explored the grieving process as it relates to adult children, and how those relationships are affected. My daughters were twenty-somethings at the time, living on their own, and we really didn't see that much of each other as time unfolded, certainly not enough to navigate the emotional reefs that the loss of my wife and their mother put in our course of life. We can never see through the eyes of another, but I would guess their loss to be just as profound, but yet, still different.

        Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you're able; in the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table - Steely Dan

        by OrdinaryIowan on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 06:41:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I found myself (14+ / 0-)

    becoming dehydrated as well. Your councilor is right, nothing is the same now, even in my most optimistic moments, I feel lethargic sometimes, even after 2 years, 5 months and . There are still times when life feels surreal, I am moving forward, one foot in front of the other, but it is as if they are not my feet. There are parts of my life that are  on hold, our dreams and plans included.

    Our house needed painting when Monique died and we were discussing possible color schemes. I can't for the life of me decide by myself what those colors should be, even today.

    One last thought, a quote I come back to time and again,

    He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of the Gods. Æschylus Greek tragic dramatist (525 BC - 456 BC)

    -9.75, -7.49 "He that will not reason is a bigot - He that cannot reason is a fool - He that dares not reason is a slave." Sir William Drummond 1585-1649

    by zamrzla on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:28:18 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for those gifts. (13+ / 0-)

      This...

      I feel lethargic sometimes, even after 2 years, 5 months and . There are still times when life feels surreal, I am moving forward, one foot in front of the other, but it is as if they are not my feet. There are parts of my life that are  on hold, our dreams and plans included
      I am just past the 2 yr mark and it feels much the same to me!  It makes me feel so less alone to know you know these feelings too.  I try to make sense of it but grief's ways make themselves known to you in their own time, not ours.

      And the Æschylus quote.  Perhaps even more profound than the C.S. Lewis quotes, seeing how long ago they were written!

      As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

      by FlamingoGrrl on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:40:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We are far from alone (9+ / 0-)

        although we feel completely alone. Grief is ever present within all who have suffered; its intensity varies according to the depth of the loss. Sorry, my inner math nerd shows up sometimes to help me think through things at times.

        -9.75, -7.49 "He that will not reason is a bigot - He that cannot reason is a fool - He that dares not reason is a slave." Sir William Drummond 1585-1649

        by zamrzla on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:00:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I find myself (6+ / 0-)

        defensive when people ask when I'll do certain things, because I honestly want to say, "never."  That's certainly how I feel.  I lost Will in Oct. 2010 and his leather jacket is still hanging on my treadmill (I move it off and back every time I use it), boots by my bed, watch on my  nightstand.  And I still won't go to certain places locally because they belong, completely, to my memories of him and I there together.  I can't imagine going there alone - it would feel like being in a room with only an absence, which is how much of the world still feels...

        Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

        by KibbutzAmiad on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 04:26:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh yeah, I'm right there with you! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, side pocket, bws

          It's good that you know how to follow your gut.  Only people who have been bereaved in similar ways can understand.  No one else matters.

          As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

          by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 09:24:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  That's some powerful stuff. (20+ / 0-)

    Isn't it amazing how you can read someone else's experience of grief and find yourself nodding along and going, "Yes, exactly! That!"

    I'm in Santa Barbara this week visiting my parents and close family friends. It's been quite lovely, except ... this is where I met Scott. This is where we fell in love. There are a lot of reminders here of a life I had a long time ago and a life I'm not going to have. I drove past the apartment where he lived when I met him. I went past the beach where we used to go for walks when he'd get home from the office. Twelve years ago, there was this whole future I thought I was going to have, and I'm not going to have it, and being here is a constant reminder of that.

    You know what? Grief sucks.

  •  Thank you for sharing. (17+ / 0-)

    It's only been a little over a month since my 42-year-old daughter died. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and died on July 1.

    I don't know how to go forward without her in my life. I have read some C.S. Lewis and will put this recommended piece aside until my grief is not so fresh.

    Thank you all for sharing. It helps.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing."

    by Philly526 on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:06:32 PM PDT

  •  For me, there is so much anxiety. (10+ / 0-)

    Stuff that I could do that completely baffles me now.  Plans put on hold, I was fearless when Jeff was around, and now? Everything is so hard.

    Should I sell the cottage on the River? It just doesn't mean much to me now. Actually I can't sell the cottage until his name is expunged from the title. Details like that.

    I have become agoraphobic, other that going to the grocery, normal everyday things like that are alright. But taking a trip is not going to happen, except for the three hour drive to my cottage. And the three hour drive back to my home.

    Things are better after two years and one month in some ways, but not in all ways.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:59:58 PM PDT

    •  I am sorry to hear (9+ / 0-)

      of your struggles.  It seems the cottage is sort of a life source for you at the moment, it gets you out of your house.  For myself, I spent the 2nd and 3rd years reclaiming things, activities, places that were such a part of our lives, so I could continue to enjoy them with him in spirit.  It wasnt easy, still isnt, but I believe there is important energy behind all those 'together' times that I need for myself to move forward.  I know it is different for everyone and I wish you the very best on your new journey.

  •  My mom died 3 weeks ago. My heart is literally (12+ / 0-)

    broken. I feel so overwhelmed at times, it just engulfs me. People just go about their lives and business and I don't feel normal anymore. I cannot pretend life is ok.

    Republicans only care about themselves, their money, & their power.

    by jdmorg on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:19:04 PM PDT

    •  don't pretend life is okay (12+ / 0-)

      right now, for you, life is not okay ...

      Don't worry about how others handle their grief or they appear to handle their grief...
      Each person's grief and  manner of handling it is unique to them .. you must wear the grief that fits the unique you ...

      My father died 11 years ago this month ...in fact, today is the anniversary of his funeral ... and I still miss him terribly
      ... and I miss my mom too .. she died Christmas time 2009 .. and I don't really like doing Christmas now (okay, to tell you the truth, I always felt my mom overdid Christmas ..really overdid the decorating and everything else, but all I want to do is go to church on Christmas eve .. and nothing else now, because it makes me miss her to do presents or decorations in the house or send Christmas cards)...

      I will share this with you ... from my own experience and that of practically everyone I have known ... time does help ... be patient and gentle with yourself ... you will learn how to laugh and sing and enjoy things again ..you will always miss them, but you can find good things in life again ...

      Give your heart a real workout! Love your enemies!

      by moonbatlulu on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:36:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think we are (10+ / 0-)

      forced to pretend, in this culture, that grief is not important, real, or shattering.  Even so fresh a grief as yours.  I often wanted to be able to shroud myself in mourning clothes, like they did in times past, to announce "This is a broken person.  Don't expect much."  

      Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

      by KibbutzAmiad on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 04:29:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I definitely think we should bring back the black (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, bewild, bws, KibbutzAmiad

        mourning clothes, a year minimum.  It's dreadful to walk around in the world where people think you're "over it".

        As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

        by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 09:20:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It was easier when people (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, bewild, bws, KibbutzAmiad

        wore mourning.  You weren't expected to "just get over it."  

        These days, it seems as though people are allowed two weeks and then they are supposed to "get back to normal."

        But normal doesn't exist anymore.  A new normal will, one day, but most of us liked the old normal better, and would give anything to return to it.  Even with the irritations and the stuff we took for granted.  But we can't.

  •  Thank you, FlamingoGrrl. (7+ / 0-)

    What a wonderful diary.

    "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass... it is about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Vivanne Grenne

    by remembrance on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:47:15 PM PDT

  •  One thing about CS Lewis and this book (9+ / 0-)

    First of all, I had read a lot of Lewis prior to reading this book ... His Chronicles of Narnia were written for his godchildren so keep that in mind if you read them ...
    He can be terribly sexist ... and in terms of theology, i would much rather read Dorothy Sayers than Lewis ...

    However, this book ... A Grief Observed... is different from his others ...he even first published it under a pseudonym of N W Clark
     and many of his friends who had been quite concerned over his grief at his loss sent the book to him to comfort him ...

    It was not until after his death that it was published under his own name ....

    i
    I

    Give your heart a real workout! Love your enemies!

    by moonbatlulu on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:47:22 PM PDT

  •  I read "A Gief Observed" (12+ / 0-)

    the month after my husband died, and I could not put it down. Thank you for sharing your grief with us, and I am so sorry you have to go through this. His words touched me deeply, and so accurately described the agony of it. The raw feeling of my heart being ripped from my chest and wondering if I was dying too.  Grief does feel like fear, and there is lots of it.....wondering how I am going to live the rest of my life without him, knowing nothing will ever be the same...I will never be the same. Grieving for him is like  "the sky covering over everything", So true. I feel so different from others who have not suffered this loss, so separate, still after 9 years.  I am stronger now, but there is a level of pain that exists inside that I am able to live with, and will never leave me. It's just the way it is. I wish you blessings and comfort.....take good care of yourself.

    Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

    by Skips Girl on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:49:37 PM PDT

    •  Your reaction to his book describes my response to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, bws, Skips Girl

      it exactly!

      Thank you for telling me about you and your husband.  I can't tell you how much strength I take from your description of your experience.  It mirrors my own and helps me feel less alone.

      I am sorry you have to live on without your loved one; I am grateful for your presence in this journey.

      As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

      by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 09:18:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It helps (0+ / 0-)

        me to know my journey through this loss can be a source of comfort to someone else. So thank you for telling me that. It is so wrong that anyone loses a loved one and then has the additional pain of feeling alone with it. You are not alone.  it just feels that way sometimes.  We help each other by sharing this experience along the way. I am grateful for this place to come on Monday nights. Thanks to all of you and I wish you peace and many blessings.

        Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

        by Skips Girl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 09:34:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Relearning the World (8+ / 0-)

    Thank you, FlamingoGrrl, for highlighting Lewis's sublime observation that the absence of a deceased loved one is "like the sky, spread over everything."

    One of the turning points in my own grief journey (my father died by suicide long ago, in 1978; and decades later I began doing volunteer work in suicide bereavement support, which is now my vocation) came in 1996 when I read Thomas Attig's How We Grieve: Relearning the World, which helped me to understand the pervasiveness of my father's absence. Attig writes,

    “When we are bereaved, we experience divisions within our selves as the webs of our lives are torn asunder ... Finding our way in the world after bereavement, that is, relearning the world, is not a matter of learning information about the world but learning to be and act in the world differently in light of our loss ... [Relearning takes place in] "the emotional and psychological, behavioral, physical and biological, social, and spiritual aspects of our experience and activity ... [and] is thus holistic. Our grieving is organic, and we experience it organically."
    This idea -- that for the bereaved, the world is a different place without the now-absent loved one -- has been central to my understanding of what to do in response to my grief, by which I mean, try to embrace (an odd word to use when pain and confusion, etc. are among the objects of one's "embrace") the experience of living in the world as altogether strange and new.
    •  Wow, you gave me a way to think about something (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, Randomfactor, bewild, bws

      I was just puzzling over!

      Nothing, NOTHING, feels "right" anymore.  Even being with one of my closest, supportive friends last week still wasn't exactly what I needed; at times things she said hurt, although they were not hurtful or meant to be hurtful. And I'm so EXHAUSTED by life, really exhausted.

      That quote helps me relax a little and think about this "grief process rebuilding" as happening at a very minute level rather than huge grief tsunamis.  That gives me some perspective on why this feels so huge to me.

      Thank you SO MUCH!

      As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

      by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 09:10:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Be kind to yourself (0+ / 0-)

        I am moved by your declaration that "nothing ... feels 'right' anymore" and by your feeling "so EXHAUSTED by life." These experiences -- it seems to me -- are examples of how carrying the pain of loss affects us (our loss makes the world seem like a strange place, and our pain exhausts us). I do hope it is helpful for you to view the process of grief unfolding "at a very minute level" and as a "huge" experience, for although time alone does not necessarily heal us, it takes time for us to heal. Indeed, if you can "relax a little" and be patient (realizing that your immense feelings and your disorientation to your very own world are truly normal aspects of this seemingly maddening process) -- as well as being very kind to yourself -- then you can be aware not only of the pain but also of the times when you are coping with the pain, not only of the disorientation but also of the times when you have a moment of clarity about this new world without your loved one.

        •  Your words have a distinct gentleness to them and (0+ / 0-)

          I am so appreciative of your response.   Yes, I have the concept and it truly helps me make sense of my life right now. Thank you so much.

          As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

          by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 10:30:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, embrace may well be an (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, Randomfactor, bws

      apt way of putting it. My grief councilor once told me that when we love completely, we must grieve completely. I think I grieve by embracing it so I can feel Monique still being part of my life. I know that sounds crazy, but I still talk to her every day. I swear there are times when she answers back (in my mind at least) and I can see her out of the corner of my eye.

      -9.75, -7.49 "He that will not reason is a bigot - He that cannot reason is a fool - He that dares not reason is a slave." Sir William Drummond 1585-1649

      by zamrzla on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 09:15:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your experiences are much like mine. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zamrzla

        I too feel that Russell continues to be part of my daily existence.  Trust yourself when you hear that voice, it really is her.

        As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

        by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 03:03:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Contact, connection, relationship ... (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, we can and do embrace our grief, and there is no question in my mind that we remain in contact with or connected to those we have lost (and that everybody experiences contact, connection, and ongoing relationships with our loved ones each in our own way).

  •  Very poignant diary FG. I'd forgotten this book. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wasatch, LSophia, Wee Mama, Randomfactor, bws

    I read it back in college, and it touched me deeply--even though at the time I hadn't suffered any losses.

    I think I'll reread it--now that I have.  Thank you for your lovely diary.

    If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

    by livjack on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 07:56:43 AM PDT

  •  Grieving is the tribute we pay our dead (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, zamrzla, bws

    and how we honor their memory.

    •  A dear friend of mine.. (0+ / 0-)

      who I haven't seen for far too long now, told me at the time that grief is proportional to the intensity of oneness, to the love that fed it. I haven't seen her for a while, but I should try to reconnect - she was a harbor for a while in the storm of my life, and I owe her mightily for it.

      Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you're able; in the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table - Steely Dan

      by OrdinaryIowan on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 09:27:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had a friend who took the book and every place (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randomfactor, bewild, bws

    it referred to H. she wrote in Henry, her late husband's name. It helped her to personalize.  The most helpful part of the book to me was this quote:

     

    "Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he’s had his leg off is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over it.’ But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again.”
    My life is changed forever but I have learned to walk again.

    You have rights in Iowa!

    by deweysmom on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 11:23:42 AM PDT

    •  {{{hugs to you}}} (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bws

      for the grief work you've accomplished.

      As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

      by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 03:00:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My husband (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randomfactor, bewild, zamrzla, bws, pbearsailor

    My husband has been dead 1 year last Friday.  Yesterday, it was 1 year since we had his memorial service.  

    It feels like yesterday and it feels like 100 years ago.  For the first 6 months or so, I felt like I was swimming in jello.  

    My daughter and I are learning how to live our lives again.  But we both know it will  never be the same.  

    Sometimes I have this fantasy of being put in a chemical coma and living the rest of my live in the fantasy world of me, my husband, and our daughter until the day I die.  

    Then reality sets in and I know my daughter needs me.  So do our 2 fur babies.  If the truth be told, that's the only reasons I get out of bed.  

    C.S.Lewis's description is exactly right.  The act of living is different.  And my husband's absence hangs over everything.  

    It's not all misery.  There are moments when I enjoy life.  But they're brief moments.  And then the ache and pain of my husband's loss brings me back to reality.  

    I have to stop here.  Thanks everyone for allowing me to express my grief.  

    •  Oh, I know that place where everything is "jello" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BroadwayBaby1, zamrzla, bws

      It's the surrealness of grief, don't you think?  Because our loved ones are SO a part of us there is just no separating them from our being, except that somehow in this Universe they could at the same time not be physically here.

      "Chemical coma".  Yes please, I'd like one too.  I know how I resent when I am startled out of my safe inner place, where it's me & Russell, hanging out together, making it through life.

      Please come visit us in The Grieving Room on Monday nights.  One year is not a very long in 'grief space-time'.  There are lots of helping hearts there.

      As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

      by FlamingoGrrl on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 02:58:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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