Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Bird-en of Grief

What brings a person comfort is such an individual, personal experience that it's difficult to know what to do or say in the face of loss. If thoughts are actually real, tangible things and prayers a form of powerful energy, then spoken words might not be so important.  Perhaps what's important is how we respond in other ways.  Some people are very skilled in managing grief and giving comfort.  I've never felt comfortable on these occasions and I'm left without much to say.  The feelings are there, under the surface, but silence just feels better.

 I spent all of Monday in a deep, quiet funk while the dense gray clouds made everything dull and dreary.  Yesterday was sunny and balmy, with the scent of spring floating in through the windows.  My house was full of children playing loudly and my kitchen was a wreck from cooking bereavement meals.  In all of the chaos and sunshine, I suddenly felt relief and a bubble of happy.  I also had a new outfit waiting to be pressed, and just the sight of the new garment laying over a chair lifted my spirits.

Tom's son Jim came for a visit recently and shared that "grief is not something dispensed in a daily dose of cc's.  You might be going along just fine for quite a while, and then it arrives with enough force to knock you down.  There's no telling what will trigger it or why it arrives of its own will."

Jim's statement reminds me of a poem I recently read about a bird that is a metaphor for fear.  In the poem, the bird arrives without warning and rattles the poet's rib cage.  I think grief is like that bird; not a little bright song bird, but a dark, heavy thing with black wings and talons.  There's not much that will scare it away, but sometimes it takes flight, lifting off the shoulder and leaving one lighter.

There are moments when my grief bird has arrived and it's difficult to do the normal things that need my attention.  I've known people who try to escape grief in work.  I'm only able to work if the bird-en of grief has lifted it wings and flown away.  Then I can feel a sense of productivity and energy return.  The whole thing is so perplexing. 

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