Friday, November 12, 2010

Grief

In these last days back from France, I've plummeted up and down. It was both hard and good to be in La Fosse de Tigne. Liz was a complete star though and surfed on the waves right alongside of me. But all things come to an end and now it's back to Norfolk and reality for me and it's been a really hard time.
I have been greatly comforted lately though by my beautiful friend Mardi who lost her wonderful Dad "Biggy" a while ago and has been a model of grace in grief if I ever needed one. Mard is the most wonderful photographer and also sent this photo of her Step-neice which has a perfect sense of peace about it.
Mardi wrote to me about her experience of grief and I couldn't put it more eloquently so after receiving more of Mard's gracious permission, I bring you her amazing words......
I'm not sure that any words will help at this stage but I was  
reading an article in 'The Age' Good Weekend that Stephanie Dowrick
wrote titled 'Grief and Consolation' and I thought of you. And having
experienced loss myself I felt her words were ringing true for me
too...
She wrote : "Grief is extremely difficult for most of us to think or
talk about. It is also excruciating to bear. That makes it hard for
many of us to know how to give comfort to others when they are
grieving. It may also make it difficult to receive comfort, even when
it is sorely needed."
Stephanie goes on to explain that she has been reading a memoir by Virginia
Lloyd called 'The young widow's book of home improvement'. A woman
who
at age 32 met a lovely man, married him the following year then was a
widow at age 34 !!
She writes : "I have been transfixed by how skillfully Virginia
captures the complex and sometimes wildly varying emotions that we
lump together and call grief. There is nothing predictable about this
state of mind and heart. Even from one day to the next, but especially
in the earliest weeks and months, devastating grief can display itself
in many different ways.
Virginia writes
'At unexpected moments I found myself overpowered by
a wave of grief that swamped without warning... On occasion these waves
felled me: I dropped to the ground, slumped as if the puppet strings
I had been relying on to hold me up had failed.'
The physicality of grief is shocking for many people.
I've heard people say that it is as though their vital organs are wailing...
Your body might hurt as much as your emotional heart. Food tastes
like chalk. Your sleep is chaotic, and so are your dreams and thoughts.
It is difficult to concentrate and you may feel simultaneously
highly sensitive to other people and weirdly indifferent'.
Stephanie Dowrick goes on to talk about a unique pattern of reaction
as each of us will grieve in our
own way. She says that rage and outrage
at loss is often part of the
process and can include a sense of injustice.
Her final paragraph :
"At any stage there is no right way to grieve, nor any one right way to
console. Treating yourself compassionately and gently, and especially
accepting the unpredictability of grief's demands, helps a little.
So does accepting the consolation and concern of others, even when
their efforts are far from perfect."
Now back to Mardi's words.
In my own experience of grief I found those overpowering waves to be
exhausting, unpredictable, debilitating, shocking and strangely
calming afterwards. I had a strong image in my head of floating in the
ocean, far out to sea, the waves appearing out of nowhere and crashing
over my head. They were frequent and almost anything could trigger the
next wave... but as the weeks passed the big waves started to come
less often, still with the same amount of ferocity but more time would
pass in between. I felt it as a kind of madness. I was equally sad and
angry, furious really, that someone who meant so much to me could be
gone. And it was incredibly physical, racked my body. It also made
perfect sense that I could feel so sad but I was alone in it, felt
that no-one really understood how I was feeling, even the people who
were also grieving for the same loved one. We all have our own unique
experience of that person and will grieve for them in our own way.
What really helped me accept my Dad's passing was to take him with
me.
I had the idea that I ought to be able to let go, get over it, move
on, blah blah, but I really didn't want to let him go... I was also
judging myself in it, thinking I shouldn't be this sad or that it was
going on quite a long time... So, instead of trying to let him go I
started to imagine him with me, in the car or out somewhere I would
imagine him enjoying the day as much as I was or think of him being
around, close by. I carry him in my heart and he lives for me, in my
memories and in my dreams. I miss him but still feel strongly
connected. I'm comforted by that.
The pain is something that you incorporate into a new
life that is different from before. And from my experience, the
sharpness of that pain softens as time goes by ; the experience of the
loss doesn't disappear it just changes.

4 comments:

Lulu LaBonne said...

as always - you are in my heart

JoeyJoJo said...

Lovely Lulu. It's a great place to be. xxx

Anonymous said...

Joey,it is amazing to read the words that Mardy sent you.They all make so much sense..if you can explain it like that. I am very moved by her beautiful approach and I love the feeling that you do not have to let go,but take Richard with you in your heart.If there is a tiny bit that I may have (maybe buns!) then I feel happy imagining that I have a little bit of Ricardo with me and Zebby too,though maybe Zeb would prefer fingers strumming a guitar to buns.x
I love that your friend Mardi is so open and not shy of grief and mentioning it.
You are so beautiful Joey,you have such grace in the most unthinkable moment of your life. I am so glad that so much love surrounds you.
With love as always,c.xxx

Richard and Joey said...

Joey, those words are amazing and go a little way towards a description of the indescribable. thank you, and love you!! xxx

Bron xx