Skip to main content

We Are Unfair to Grief

A painting from Hope Lodge, NYC, taken during a tour with our ACS BAC group, which included Susan. A painting we admired.

When you are grieving, I told my friend Devra as we talked last night---the last day of our friend Susan's life--when you are grieving, I think you are insane, a little. Devra explained to me that in Judaism the literal translation for grief is "out of your mind," and you must give space to grievers to be out of their minds.

That’s right.

In the face of loss, people deserve space to be out of their minds. And they will get back in their minds in their own time, not when people are tired of their grief and ready for them to move on.

We are unfair to grief, I think, treating it as an enemy or a disease to be fought. We do not succumb to grief. We do not lose to grief. We engage grief. It gives us the time our hearts need for us to be out of our minds.

Right now I am a little out of my mind. A lovely, amazing, inspirational woman is finished. Her body stopped.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
-- WH Auden

I mourn. Oh all the wonderfulness of her, all she was and did in so little time. How much more might she have…but, it is a design, I have faith. Thank you, God, for the time of Susan that we had.

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
-- Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam:27, 1850

Cold comfort. Because we mourn. We grieve. We are out of our minds. Thank you grief, for the space to admit the blessing of a person, and the pain of her loss; for the time to know who she was and what she meant to us; for the loss of sanity when we mourn out loud so the world knows the new hole in our sky, the tear in our hearts.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one.
-- W H Auden

And then, one day, our minds will return to us, when our heart retreats, our grief recedes. One day we will know the miracle it has been, the life, and that is the part we’ll think of most of all.

Oh what better thing to finish with for Susan--bright star always, lady of planetary science, answerer of why, belly laugher, sensitive understanding heart, tremendous warrior advocate, bringer of greater good, feet on the ground, 200 watt mind--than another beautiful quote about still being there just because we knew her.

In one of the stars, I shall be living.
In one of them, I shall be laughing.
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Many blessings to Susan’s family. And wishes to you for all that you need during this time.

Comments

{sue} said…
Beautiful. Thank you.
Christine said…
more tears. . .i never met her "in real life" but like so many i knew er on-line for many years. she IS a star now in the heavens among the bright, full, february snow moon.

xoxo
Boston Mamas said…
Thank you for sharing this Julie. {tears}
Julie Marsh said…
So lovely. Thank you.
Miss Britt said…
Wow. Such a fitting tribute.
Karianna said…
Beautiful words. XOXO.
Unknown said…
Absolutely beautiful!
Leslie Y said…
Julie, this is so lovely, thank you for sharing. I lost my best friend in a boating accident a little over a year ago and since that day, I have never felt more alone in the world. I have turned to friends for help as well as sites like http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-dl to get me through this difficult time. I encourage you to take a look and let me know what you think.
Magpie said…
oh yes. lovely, J. so sad and beautiful.
S said…
i miss her so.

Popular posts from this blog

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Quorum

After being confronted with written evidence, Julie admits that she is a total attention whore. In some things, in some ways, sometimes I look outward for validation of my worth and existence. I admit it. It's my weak spot, my vanity spot . If you say I am clever, comment on a post, offer me an award, mention me on your blog, reply to a comment I left on your blog, or in any way flatter me as a writer...I am hopelessly, slavishly devoted to you. I will probably even add you to my blogroll just so everyone can see the list of all the cool kids who actually like me . The girl, she knows she is vain in this regard , but after much vanity discussion and navel-gazing , she has decided to love herself anyway, as she is (ironically) and will keep searching for (1) internal validation and (2) her first person . Until I reach a better point of self-actualization, though, may I just say that this week you people have been better than prozac and chocolate (together, with a side of whi

In defense of vanity...I think

Do you have one of those issues where you argue with yourself? Where you just aren't sure what you actually think because there are so many messages and opinions on the topic around you? I have more than one like this. However, there is one topic that has been struggling to the top of my mind recently: vanity and perceived vanity. Can vanity be a good thing? Vanity has historically been truly reviled. Vanity is number seven of the Seven Deadly Sins. It's the doppleganger of number seven on the Seven Holy Virtues list: humility. There are many moralistic tales of how vanity makes you evil and brings about a spectacular downfall. Consider the lady who bathed in the blood of virgins to maintain her youth. Google Borgia+vanity and find plenty. The Brothers Grimm and Disney got in on the act too. The Disney message seems to be: the truly beautiful don't need to be vain. They are just naturally eye-catchingly gorgeous. And they are all gorgeous. Show me the Reubenesque Pr

Is your name yours? How your name affects your success...

Made by Andrea Micheloni Not too long ago I read What's in a name? by Veronica Mitchell. She'd read the NPR/USA Today article, Blame it on your name , that shared new research results: "a preference for our own names and initials — the 'name-letter effect' — can have some negative consequences." Veronica's post and that article got me thinking about names, and their importance. Changing to my husband’s name and shedding my maiden name was no love lost for me. By the time we married, I’d have gladly married any other name just for a change. My maiden name was a trial; I was sick of spelling it, pronouncing it, explaining it, and dealing with the thoughtless rude comments about it. My sister and I dreamed and planned for the day we could shed that name. So I wonder, sometimes, whether I adequately considered what a name change would actually mean. Heritage and genealogy matter to me and my maiden name reflected a great deal of familial history. Histo