Thursday, May 31, 2012
When Grief Doesn't Come
A friend's wife died a year ago of cancer. It's a Jewish tradition that at the one year death anniversary the headstone is set on the grave. This ritual is called an "unveiling." The headstone serves to identify the grave so that family and friends can find it when they visit. It is a way of finding and connecting to the beloved deceased.
My friend has had a very hard time finding his wife during this past year. He does not have dreams of her. He can't hear her voice. Her touch faded soon after she died.
He envies his children and friends who have regular visitations in the form of stumbling upon sweet memories at unexpected moments. Seeing a black cocker spaniel running across a field morphs into seeing her and her black cocker diving into the ocean and swimming circles around each other. Biting into a strawberry resurrects the flavor of the amazing salads she made that always had bits of sweet fruit hidden under the tart green leaves. A stranger's gesture becomes her fluid hand brushing her hair back from her forehead.
I think he fears that grief will be an endless abyss. He may be right. But I don't think it will be an endless, bottomless abyss. And since he can't yet approach the edge, he can't yet see her on the other side.
Do you know anyone who has suffered a deep loss and is having trouble grieving? Have you experienced trying to move through a grief process around your own illness experience, or your partner's? What has that been like?