There is a point, right at the beginning, when you
find out someone you love has died, or is going to die where the grief
is so raw and so deep that it is as if every piece of you has been
stabbed with broken glass. That doesn't do it justice. It would be less
painful to run through a sheet of glass than to experience that moment
of knowing utter loss. I don't care if you are religious, if you have
'hope' that moment of knowing is a hurt beyond all things. You can't
bear it - and yet you do. I don't know how. I do not know how I have
borne it - three hideous times. It is incomparable, every part of you
cries out - and yet it is senseless. There are no words for this level
of distress. C. S Lewis comes close to giving it a voice in his book 'A
Grief Observed' - but a hundred books, a million words couldn't capture
the agony of those first few moments.
It doesn't last, perhaps
it can't, perhaps your body simply can't endure that level of pain and
shuts that part off. It comes back sometimes, but I don't think ever,
quite, to the level of those first few moments of true abandonment.
Sometimes I wonder if my emotions have been permenantly effected - the shock
of losing my mother has left me with an extreme ability not to feel, to
shut myself off from things. To walk away from compassion. It is a
tendency I can recognise, that I have to monitor. I often allow myself
to be walked over, to accept too much, to be too nice because if I am
not I can speak without compassion and the regret of it later keeps me
awake at night, long long after everyone else has moved on.
have found that grief never leaves you. You can certainly be happy
again, but there is never a point when you can truly say "I am over
this." When I had my first child, I was shocked by how much it returned,
not just for the empty place is the family photos, not just because my
need for advise, for a bulwark was stronger than ever, but because I had
a new understanding. I knew the utter terror of what it would feel like
to leave my child. To abandon him to death. I knew exactly how she
would have felt leaving me, helpless and choiceless and taken away. It
was salt in a raw wound. The only possible thing that could have been
worse is, if my son was taken from me. I know it, I have never
experienced it and I thank God and touch every piece of wood available
that I have not.
Do you think that people who have died watch
over you? I don't know what I think. I have been luckier than I deserve
on many occasions - as if I am being compensated for that early
unnecessary loss. But feeling an actual presence... that is quite
different. Recently though I had a moment when that first moment of
grief took me, perhaps I cried out, I am not a loud person so it seems
unlikely, but for a moment I didn't know who I was so it is possible.
And I felt them, my mother, my recently lost grandparents, they were
there. I knew that things would be okay, it didn't stop the pain, but it
took the edge off. I haven't experienced that before or since. Very
very occasionally, perhaps four or five times I have dreamed about my
mother. Oh how I never want those dreams to end, oh how I long for them
to come again - but they appear out of the blue and there is nothing I
can do to hold onto them. I think I would live in my dreams if I could.
other day I heard this interview with Maurice Sendak and I wept because
I understood, and I knew every feeling when he said "and I miss you,
and I will miss you, and I miss them." How I miss them!