This is by no means an attempt to steal the thunder of C.S. Lewis’s work of the same title, which I have read and digested. He is an intellectually dense writer, yet in this particular work, as you would expect, a very raw humanness comes out. He still waxes philosophical, and theological, to be sure. But especially in the early stages, I found it very identifiable. Which is why I’d like to quote the first few lines, before proceeding.
No one every told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says.
-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
Part of this blog is going to focus on some excerpts from my own “grief journal”, as it were. Obviously, much of said journal is very private and only for me. Yet, my hope is that it may help someone else out there who may be suffering in their own grief and having trouble finding empathy.
Make no mistake, empathy is distinct here from sympathy. And a griever needs both. We need not only that comforting collective support system from our friends and family and loved ones; we also need that very specific, very isolated, and very unlikely person (or people) who has (have) experienced the same or similar trauma/loss. It’s perhaps most difficult, at the outset, to find and reach out to these people who can best empathize, because we feel that it’s “too soon” or “too raw” still. That even being in their presence or hearing them recount that loss will drive us to inconsolable sobs of sorrow and despair. And that may very well be, and that’s a perfectly valid excuse to avoid those people for a time. But we DO need them in our lives, at some point.
This is my attempt to be one of those people to you, if, god forbid, you have lost a spouse or partner. Know that you are not alone. There is hope. There are groups, there are people, and there are days when none of it will matter; but there are more days when it WILL matter. And on those days I hope you reach out, whether it’s to me or someone else in this immense yet small world. You will find your empathy person. Don’t give up.
I don’t sleep. I wonder where you are, when you will come back to me. Why this happened. It can’t be real. It’s a mistake. A bad dream. No. I toss and turn. The silence deafens. Kiera senses my restlessness. I cannot hold you. I stare at your picture, touching it softly. Why? You were just fine. We cuddled last night. I got up for work and kissed you and got you your drinks. I had some breakfast and started to work. You were having a hard pain day. You wanted to sleep til the afternoon. It was a normal day.
I need you. Your touch, your smell, your voice, your laugh. Why can’t I have you back? It’s not fair. I know you don’t feel any pain anymore. I know you don’t want me to either. But I do. I don’t know how to go on. What happens now? Where do I go? Can I sleep in our bed again? Can I even sleep at all?
I tried to eat something. Hot chocolate before bed was our tradition.. Not that you had it much but you always made sure I did, in our cold and cozy room. The food doesn’t taste like anything. It probably won’t stay down anyway. What would be the point?