Friday, February 18, 2005

There is weeping and there is grief

I have a booklet sent to me from my church. It's regarding stages of bereavement. Formal word, that. The first bit is about weeping, how death produces shock waves. (And how!) What I have learned is that weeping - and, okay, let's use my own language here - crying - is healthy and while it does not in any way remove the pain, it does release us from the pressure of pain. Because pain does build and there is a definite pressure and it must be released because it's the pressure, not the pain, that is unbearable. What's surprising to me though is when I cry. This morning, for instance, while trimming the brown Ginger leaves back since I'd forgotten to cover the plant in December's freeze, it hit me. And it was all I could do to even make it upstairs. What triggered that? My father's love of the land? My failure to follow-through on his lessons of taking care of the plants? Or was it just the exact moment when the pressure had to be relieved and no matter what I was doing, it was going to happen? I don't know. But I do know it felt good, good to release the pressure of the pain. And good to be able to fall asleep afterwards.

Also in the booklet are some words on grief. Although I find these comforting, I've developed my own ideas about grief. I read somewhere a long time ago that grief is a word to describe the absence of feeling. It didn't make sense to me then and it doesn't make sense to me now. But I keep thinking about it and would like to make one change. Grief is a word to describe the absence of color. It's dark and it is a feeling that comes forward when you have been severed from hope, from continuance, from your father. Grief steps up when you realize that there is no turning back, it really happened, he really is gone. And while you know he is not gone because your heart loves him, you also know that there are no more hugs from him, no more silly faces, no sage advice, no one else who will brag to his dermatologist about you (of all people) and then call you and tell you about it, and no one else in the world who will call you Funny, not as an adjective but as a name, as in when I walk in the room, "Hi, Funny." When you know these things are now only in the great beyond of your past, the lights dim. And hold on tight, because grief steps in.

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