Monday, September 9, 2013


When C.S. Lewis described grief as an invisible blanket between the world and the person grieving his words struck me.  I remember such a feeling when my father died.  The day before my dad was removed from life support we had to bury my great aunt.  I stood at her gravesite with only one thought on my mind and it was that my father was going to die tomorrow.  It was surreal and I wondered if my pain was visible.  I felt almost invisible going about the business of living but wondering how the world could go on when my world was being torn apart. Lewis also said grief felt like the sensation of being afraid, that same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness.  Oh, how accurate a description.

Until my father’s death I had only been introduced to grief.  My first encounter was at the age of five when my great grandmother died.  I remember my parents coming to me while I was playing outside.  They sat down beside me and told me that Mama Tucker had died.  My mother was very close to her grandmother and I could feel her sadness but had very little understanding of the finality of their words.

As a young adult I experienced the loss of my grandparents and though I definitely experienced grief it was on a much lesser scale.  I found myself in a supportive role.  My job was to be a support to my parents but always cognitive of the feeling that life goes on. Not until my father’s death did I truly understand grief as described by C.L. Lewis.  And like many of life’s experiences once we have survived such grief we are able to imagine our ability survive it again if necessary.

I have been guilty of looking for answers where there are none.  I have wondered why God would have allowed me to find such happiness at this stage of my life and then threaten me with the unthinkable possibility of taking it away.   I had convinced myself that the advantage of remaining single was that I would never have to experience the loss of a spouse.  It seemed to be a worthwhile trade until Ron and I met again and though I avoided marriage for a long time I realized that I would never be able to protect myself from the possibility of grief. 

After our marriage and the 3rd cancer surgery I again questioned why God would let me have such happiness and then threaten to take it away.  But I think I finally found something that helps me come to terms with this possibility.

“It was too perfect to last,' so I am tempted to say of our marriage. But it can be meant in two ways. It may be grimly pessimistic - as if God no sooner saw two of His creatures happy than He stopped it ('None of that here!'). As if He were like the Hostess at the sherry-party who separates two guests the moment they show signs of having got into a real conversation. But it could also mean 'This had reached its proper perfection. This had become what it had in it to be. Therefore of course it would not be prolonged.' As if God said, 'Good; you have mastered that exercise. I am very pleased with it. And now you are ready to go on to the next.”
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed


Deb said...

I too remember thinking, 'How can the sun still be shining, the birds flying in the sky, when my baby has died?' It was incomprehensible to me that life itself could continue untouched.

But as we age and we lose, one by one, those we grew up with, it's like being hammered into some new shape and it hurts. The hammer blows of loss and grief can make you stronger, or you may become brittle.

I don't know if we choose which, or if that's determined by the kind of person we are, but learning to accept loss and stay strong is a lot of work. I'm still very wimpy at it.

Gentle hugs from Canada

oklhdan said...

Well said Deb!

Olga said...

Oh, Dani, I used to read about the challenges you face and wonder where your strength came from. So many times I was afraid for you and the thought was always, "I can't imagine how..." And now grief and mourning are intimate acquaintances. I remind myself that death is as much a part of life as is birth--both messy and painful and beautiful in each in its own way.

Every blade in the field,
every leaf in the forest,
lays down its life
in its season
as beautifully
as it was taken up. Henry David Thoreau