words on sorrow

There is sadness in you | There is sadness in me; we all carry it  – some as a badge, some silently. Sadness is all around and often exists voiceless. It is silenced by shame and usually presents as anger, anxiety, control or apathy. Sadness is the act of Sorrow – a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.

People don’t often realize how visible their sorrow is – it screams loudly when lonely or angry, other times it’s the tone in our voice as we cut someone verbally. It always shows its face no matter how hard we fight it. Many people don’t realize they are acting on their sorrow. They may not know loss in the sense of a loved one, but maybe it was a friendship, a job opportunity, the accolade they craved greatly, or simply affection. Sorrow can swallow you whole – it can suck life out of everything you touch and even those with whom you come into contact.

I know, for me, my sorrow is cyclical. Well, specifically my sorrow over Birdie. The holidays are always difficult – which doesn’t really make sense since we never experienced one with her. I guess it has to do with the parts of the holiday that involve coming together. The traditions we carry over or start on our own – the kind you pass down. It’s the simple delights – Christmas lights, make believe, and time well spent. It’s the cuddling on the couch in matching pajamas while the snow falls heavy outside. The things you never knew you wanted to do until you cannot.

Sorrow makes people incredibly uncomfortable. People rarely sit around and discuss their sadness or recognize how they project it, and they most certainly do not want to discuss yours. It’s really too bad because it’s something we all have in common. Although origins may differ, the weight of it is something of which we can all relate. Because I have been open about mine | ours, I have seen various reactions. The most interesting has been those who are constantly waiting for the day we will no longer be sorrowful. Those who ask: do you feel you will be past it soon? Not necessarily over it, but past it? What I find so interesting is they have a sense of desperation in their voice. They desperately need us to be OK! I know it comes from love – when you love someone you want them to be content, without struggle, and back to “normal.” 

I guess what I’m saying is: if someone you love is not OK this holiday season, but is doing their very best to get through the day | the holiday | the year | the month – show them grace. Let them feel safe with you – whether it’s safety to laugh, let loose, or even lose it. You will never expedite their healing, you will never be able to take their pain, but you can do your very best to love them through it. If it takes years or a lifetime, don’t rush them. Don’t push them to fill a void that is inevitably insatiable. Also remember, there is no part of the healing process designated to make you more comfortable. It literally has nothing to do with you. 

It takes courage to live through suffering; and it takes honesty to observe it. – C.S. Lewis


a process

The thing about grief is…there is no thing. No one can tell you how to go through it. No one can tell you if you’re doing it wrong. I understand there are five stages – they define general feelings you will process – general feelings. I don’t discount the years of study that created this logic, however at this point, they are the most simplistic terms to describe our hearts, and that seems offensive in some way. Maybe the five stages are more for those supporting you – it gives them something to grasp, a definition to satiate their helplessness. In my brief experience, the depths at which the soul grieves, supersedes the generic.

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state, but a process. C.S. Lewis – A Grief Observed

To me – grief cannot be defined, each person translates it differently. The definition we give to each day’s emotion will change and warp and at times revisit itself. It swirls around quickly and then slows down. We are not given the luxury of determining it’s weight or timing, we only get to determine our stride in it’s midst. We will make attempts to move forward and discover versions of ourselves we never imagined. The people we were before Bridie, well, they seem like strangers. We now walk around in shells of our former selves; this will change. In grace we will heal. It will be an indefinite process, and those human shells – they will be filled with more mature, defined people. There is no map, there is no timeline. Our stages of grief will be just that, ours.