Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On the Outside

There are times when I recognize that I am watching myself as though I am someone else. Some might call this a psychological disorder. I call it processing, coping, or even sometimes vacation. See, there are times when it can be a bit wearisome being me. A friend said once that she had not met someone quite so intense as I. Early in our marriage, my husband told me I just wore him out with all my talking.  And as I have gotten older, I think I can understand why, as I weary myself with all my thinking. So, I have learned ways to live with myself. And one of these ways is to step back and observe and, from that perspective offered by a bit of distance, I am more able to make choices for what comes next. So, here I am on the outside, looking in.

It has been almost 2 months since my father died. The books and articles say on average it takes someone about 4 months before the weight of grief begins to lessen. But, every journey I have taken through grief is as different as the relationship from which I have been severed. Each loss is unique. Each time the space in and around me is altered and therefore, I too, am changed. And each time I mourn uniquely. 

Not surprisingly, the loss of my father's presence in my life has affected all of me ... mind, body, and spirit. But, I it seems that I feel it the most in my body. Many days have been marked by a sense of being immobilized, heavy with fatigue that has been akin to moving through the thick humid air on a hot summer day in North Carolina. I'm slowed down. I don't sleep consistently. I wake tossing and turning and often climb out of bed when it is still dark and sit on the porch until the sun rises. There is no spontaneous movement into activity... no "get up and go". Everything seems to require a conscious choice. From this vantage point from without, I know this is normal. My soul and body are on the way. I know I won't feel this way forever. With a little distance, I can treat myself with kindness and grace.

“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.” Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)
"No amount of knowledge can prepare us for bereavement. Grief is the most intense and enduring emotion we can experience. No quick fix. No short-cut. An ancient African saying is “There is no way out of the desert except through it.” Knowledge of the grief process gives us a very generalized map of the terrain we have to cover. Each of us will take a different route. Each will choose his own landmarks. He will travel at his own unique speed and will navigate using the tools provided by his culture, experience, and faith. In the end, he will be forever changed by his journey." Click here to read all of this article offered by

And since life all about me keeps moving, each day I stir myself, clothed in my lethargy, and move into the mainstream. I move with the current. If you fall out of your boat when paddling a white water river you need to put your head back and your feet up and let the river take you feet first to where the energy dissipates and the water calms. I think I'm doing alright. I see that my feet are up. I'm moving. I know that there is an end to this. The waters will carry me to a new place. I know change has been and is being forced upon me.

I sat in the dentist chair this morning, having several 40+ year old fillings replaced. It was necessary. It was time. They were "leaking", the dentist said. Eventually, there would be decay if the work was not allowed. I had put it off in spite of the ugly stains and the sensitivity to hot and cold. I didn't want to endure the process. That hour left me feeling spacey and tired and emotionally raw. But, there is a new smile on this side of the process. So it goes with grief. It is necessary. It must be endured. Even though I know it will strip, empty, and exhaust me, grief must be allowed to do it's work of transformation. Looking in from the outside, I have just enough space to allow for the right choice. Grief will have it's way and when the work is done, my mourning will be turned into dancing.


  1. And what beautiful dancing it will be.

  2. Beautiful and moving descriptions of such a personal journey.