Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Head and Heart Living

Some men, perhaps most, operate out of their heads first, and then, eventually, from their hearts.  
When a wife dies, men risk losing contact with their hearts. Some put up a wall that blocks grief out and bury themselves in their work. Other men try to think their way through grief, as if it was a logical problem to be solved instead of a process to be worked through. 
Grief is an emotional ecosystem that maintains its own weather.  
The death of a spouse is traumatic. Modern marriage isn’t a mutually beneficial arrangement for the furtherance of societal norms. It’s a relationship based on love that is nurtured by the sharing of feelings.
I was thinking about this last weekend when my brother Kurt remarried. His first marriage was not symbiotic and the relationship withered. Divorce is the kind of grief that he deals with.  
He’s a thought guy, and at the reception after the wedding he unexpectedly asked me to give a toast. What seemed important to me was to speak of celebrating companionship, of being with someone whose presence and words would remind you to keep in touch with your heart. Kurt will talk to you about all sorts of things, but Kathy goes around the room hugging people. As I spoke of this, I began to cry, which surprised me and slightly embarrassed him.

Both Kurt and Kathy are intelligent, feeling people. Yet Kurt is like I was, and probably still am, in many ways, that when confronted with a new problem, we will first try to think our way through.  

Marriage brings compassion into our lives. It also releases the compassion that is within us. Grief reminds us to go through each day listening to our heart as well as to our head.

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