What we think about grief depends upon whether we’ve been inside the Theatre of the Absurd or we’re still standing on the street trying to look cool, wanting/not wanting to sneak in.
We can observe someone crying, overcome with emotions, face wet with tears, hands clenching and unclenching, and know what grief looks like.
We can talk about grief as a philosophical concept, especially existentialism because our human existence no longer seems to have any meaning or purpose.
We can speak about grief’s linguistic gymnasium where we tumble through words searching for those that are sharp enough to express profound, personal trauma.
We can study grief as a cultural phenomenon and gather information on how our society deals with the death of its members, and how it helps, and hinders, the return to normal life.
We can read the ancient mythologies and learn how people in prescientific times shaped their fears of the unknown into landscapes of metaphors and stories of myths to explain the randomness of death.
We can divide grief into different psychological types of personal loss—spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, pet—and discuss which factors foster recovery and which ones compound the difficulties.
We can defuse, negate, and analyze our own grief so completely that we understand what’s happening and why, but neglect to face our feelings of anger and loss, and lose our joy for living.
To grieve honestly is to enter into a relationship.
Grief is not a concept to grasp or a puzzle to figure out. It’s a journey of heart we take through a wilderness.
Death is not the thing with feathers. Death comes bearing bricks, and when it arrives we need to develop a relationship with grief, because grief is going to be our guide.
If we open ourselves to grief, and move with its tide as it flows in and out, we will stop seeing grief as an abstract concept and experience it as presence.
Grieving is emotion and verb; the thing itself, and the thing that never can be named.
Grief will no longer be what happens to other people. It will be what walks alongside us through the trauma and connects us to something larger than ourselves.
If we face grief with courage, if we accept life’s hard realities, we will experience the silence beyond understanding, find hope to go on and experience grace.
As we converse with grief, it moves from being an It to being a close friend. We develop an I-Thou relationship with each other, a relationship of listening, sharing, and trust.
inspired by Martin Buber’s I and Thou