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. 




12 comments:

  1. I can relate, Jenny. In spite of all my seminar training I don't function very well under the influence of grief or stress. When I use the word function I actually mean create. When I'm grieving or stressed I can function in a robotic fashion, handling essential chores and responsibilities, but I have difficulty with right brained activities like creative writing and art composition. Music helps me to break that pattern. Watching animals at play also helps. The support of caring friends helps. The passage of time is unstoppable. Slowly but surely the sting diminishes and you find yourself in a state of normalcy.

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  2. I like your distinction between types of work. Your caring friendship is very helpful and comforting. I'll be sure to play some music today:)

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  3. Grief really is a conundrum. But,I think if it's handled properly, it can help in the healing process. There was a time when we had a tragedy and I grieved myself literally sick and stayed that way for about a year. My body and soul were both sick. Grief is a powerful thing, but we have to show it we are the masters of it. I am so glad things are better for you now.

    Again, I am so sorry about Tom. It does sound like his was a life very well lived.

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    1. Thank you so much my dear friend Shelly. I'm so sorry that you had to experience a tragedy that impacted your life in such a long term way. I'm feeling better this evening and I know that I have too many good things in my life to stay low.

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  4. I think many of us need to wallow in our grief for a while at least. We need to really feel the lows before we can lift our eyes to see the stars again.

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    1. There's something to that I think. Acceptance for feelings is important. Thank you Desiree, you are such a kind and loving friend!

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  5. Hi Jenny, I popped on to your blog to leave a message that I was thinking of you and hoping that the sadness of losing Bear is feeling a little lighter...but I see that there is a new sadness in your life. I'm so sorry! Be gentle with yourself xxx

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    1. Claire, Thank you so much! I truly appreciate your kind words.

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  6. I don't have a lot of experience with grief, but I think Shady is on to something with music. I know when I was going through my divorce many years ago (and that, after all, involves a form of grief, I guess) I remember that music was very soothing for me. Sometimes it was classical that I craved, sometimes something from my high school or college days, sometimes a hymn - it was ever changing. Point being, it speaks to our soul without words. It can fill out heart with peace, with joy, with contentment. It says everything we cannot express. It's quite healing, actually.

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    1. Thank you Karen! I grieved a lot during my divorce. It was the death of my idealistic hopes and dreams. I'm very comforted by your words as well as some good music today!

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  7. Dear Jennifer,
    We must have just crossed cyber paths. I had just popped in to see how you'd been and read about Tom. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. I hope you can find solace in your friends and family. Your Bird-en of Grief post just rocked me as I've grieved over the loss of someone for several years now and am now just beginning to talk about it. I can absolutely relate to you in that silence is better for me too. Sometimes I diffuse with humor. My thoughts are with you and yours.

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  8. Dear Jennifer,
    Grief is so very different from person to person, and I agree with you at some point that silence is sometimes good. And sometimes it helps to talk, it goes up and down. When my dad died 14 years ago it was dreadful, but I ended up being a support for my stepmom and others at the time, I obviously have a way to move through things being there for others. But I prefer to be by myself at times, and just be quiet. I still miss him a lot. The best you can do as a friend to someone in grief is to show that you'll be there, not necessarily to say much but just be there and support. Warm blessings my friend! Hugs

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