Amid grief, life goes onSAM COOK: They move among us, going about their daily routines, carrying burdens that most of us cannot see. They show up for work, do their reports, make their sales, send their e-mails.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
They move among us, going about their daily routines, carrying burdens that most of us cannot see. They show up for work, do their reports, make their sales, send their e-mails.
What we cannot see is the grief they carry with them. Oh, we can see it at the memorial service or at the funeral. We can see them daubing away the tears and accepting the hugs that the rest of us hope will somehow ease the pain.
And maybe for a while, it does.
They have lost a husband or wife, a sister or brother, a mother or father. They have lost a son or daughter. And after the memorial service, where they are surrounded by love and touch and nurturing words, they must go on.
Sometimes we know who they are, as we go about our own scurryings. Sometimes we have no idea. But they are among us, in line at the grocery store with a blank countenance, sitting at the coffee shop looking out the window at rain falling, walking from the office to their car and wondering how to fill up another evening.
They are with us and apart from us all at once.
I think we don’t know, most of the time, the depth and texture of their grief. I think, until we get there, we don’t understand how it gets mixed up with anger and denial and bewilderment and regret. We understand the sadness and the longing and the sense of abandonment, maybe. But there is so much more they carry that we cannot understand until our turn comes.
We cannot know what it is like for the one who has lost a son to walk into the garage and see his bike, and how that can trigger all of the emotions again, and how a mother might have to sit in the car and let the sobbing come again or bang on the steering wheel in anger.
We don’t realize that simply the whiff of a scarf or hunting coat or a pair of gloves can stab someone in the heart again, yank them back to the moment they got the call that ripped their life apart.
We aren’t aware that merely seeing a particular flower in bloom could rubber-band someone back to a way his life will never be again. We have no idea, most of us, how many tears it takes, how many thrashings of the pillows, how many pages in a journal or long walks to even begin to dull the pain.
We just don’t know.
We can bring them meals for a while. We can remember to touch bases on the significant days. We can get together and just let them talk.
But we can’t take away the deep hurt they carry. I know nothing of that kind of pain. I don’t know if it diminishes over time or not. I don’t know if it ever goes away. I suspect not.
Sometimes, when I become aware of that kind of grief, as I have recently, I catch myself imagining what it might be like to suffer an inconsolable loss. But frankly, the specter of such a thing frightens me so much that I must immediately suppress the thought.
Not all among us have that luxury.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter.