Saturday, October 2, 2010

Grief in my closet

So, what would go better with my new Fluevog shoes than a bit of grief hidden in the closet, right?

Yesterday I had an old friend read the blog and tell me that definitely it was not a likable experience to plough through the pile of darkness that I gathered in this corner.  At the same time, I was reading Kalialani's blog at The Butterfly Room, and I got a similar feeling from her post:  people are uncomfortable with grief.  That is, unless they have gone through a similar experience, because in that case, I guess they will be searching the Internet looking for some other poor soul like themselves, trying not to feel so alone.  That is mostly why I am writing this blog, to create a sense of community for others like me.  I am also writing it to generate a sense that, despite life handing someone one lemon after the other, it is possible to still stand and go on.

Anyway, onto the dissertation about taking the grief out of the closet.

In Romania, when someone dies, there is a very loud, very public display of grief.  In fact, there are hired women (or used to be, don't know anymore) called "bocitoare" (literally the "crying women") who even chant grief songs, and make as much noise as possible expressing emotion on behalf of the bereaved.  When I was young, I was downright scared of these women!  Yes, grief is uncomfortable, no doubt about that.  In fact, many times I have had to hide it from people because the sense of discomfort it creates in the listener is so palpable that it takes away the fun out of a sunny day.  But...there is a catch!

The grief is going to be there, no matter what else we talk about:  shoes, food, relationships.  A large portion of the pie known as my brain will be processing grief.  And my pie wants to connect with your pie.  If my pie is busy hiding grief, no matter how much we talk about shoes, your pie will have the feeling that my pie is gone somewhere else, and you will sense the lack of connection.  Hence, a different form of discomfort will ensue, and perhaps you might think that you are boring me.  When, in fact, we are just talking in parallel.

There is no simple answer to this one.  If a person really cannot listen to another person's grief, there is usually a good reason for that.  I find it has to do with the fact that the said person has not worked through some personal loss that should have been grieved but hasn't.  Their pile of grief has been pushed deep in the recesses of their mind, because if allowed to come out, it is so big, so scary, so apparently impossible to deal with, that it threatens to crush them outright and pulverize their mind to walnut powder.  Sometimes it is not even a real event that is so scary, but an imagined one, along the lines of  "if this happened to me, I would never survive.  Best not to think about it."

The good news is:  this will likely not happen to you.
The bad news is:  some other crap, however, will.

And when it does, you will have to face grief of monumental proportions.  It's ok.  It will not crush you.  You will live.  You might even become more patient, more compassionate.  Yes, you will carry the grief load with you for the rest of your life, and it will become part of your pie crust.  And when you need to talk about it, I will listen.  Because I know that when grief has been aired out enough (enough varying from minutes to eons), there will be room in our conversation about shoes, and food, and relationships.  So allow us to cry and post pictures of our dead babies on facebook if we feel like it.  Learn to tolerate our grief.  It is not all that defines us.  Underneath it there is a person with many more layers, but you will never get to uncover them unless you become comfortable with my vulnerability=your vulnerability equation.


  1. You've touched a very fine point and expressed it well. So well in fact that even if many of us think we were familiar with it, we, or at least I, believe you've defined it in an easy to access way.

  2. That is one of the wisest things I have ever read.

    Thank you.