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Wilderness 2Lenten Lament on Grief

Yesterday was the first day since Lent began that I did anything I’d call productive for work. Why? Well grief keeps kicking my backside. And all my other sides, for that matter. I’m attending to it. I’m not rushing to get back to things. But it keeps spurting out in surprising and unsettling ways. So I’d like to write an honest lament about grief’s effects on me. Honest, but not comprehensive. Most of the text books I’ve read about it tend to make it an object to be managed rather than a disaster to be lived through. I don’t want to be managed or fixed, or reassured that things will get better. I just want to complain with the psalmists and ask a few hard questions to the universe.

If you don’t really want to know about me or my grief, then I don’t advise your reading past this point.

Why does grief make you (me) feel so desperate? Why is it when you (I) feel desperate that loud music or sex or food seem like they’ll make you (me) feel better? These are my vulnerabilities in the loss and longing I feel right now. Desire for relief. Hope for coming out of this deep anguish. That’s a mealy word anguish. It is so much more physical than that – the loss, the wound, the ache of hurt. This is the strangest grief I’ve ever felt. (Probably not true, but the memory plays tricks.) It’s like it is not really mine in some ways, yet the losses – and there are so many layers– feel like they are mine in some measure.

I keep searching lyrics for something that names what I’m feeling, but it’s too complicated. I read into them things that aren’t there. I hear things that aren’t meant to be helpful, yet they are.

And why is there such a long list of things I hate doing, but nevertheless find myself doing? It is as if my internal control system is broken, and I do things that I hate about myself. Things that I’m critical of in others . . .

• Like crying out the blue (of course everyone expects that out of grief)

• Feeling sorry for myself when really other people are surely hurting way worse than me

• Feeling guilty about that and a heap of other things

• Speaking too sharply to someone – mostly those close to me

• Forgetting small things and other more significant things – like dates on a calendar, to return email, to get my coat

• Talking too much and I can’t shut up. This is especially bad for me since I’m both introspective and extroverted. I end up dealing with my life like an amateur Oprah Winfrey (well without the money, looks or fame) but you get the idea – too much information shared in public – and too soon. Worse is when I talk about a completely unrelated topic, but take too much air time doing it. Yep, I’m doing it even now.

I don’t care that these are “normal” parts of grief. I don’t feel normal and don’t have any idea what the new normal will be exactly. Or even vaguely. I’m not interested in being eloquent or polished or impressive at the moment, just in being real. Somehow that’s the only step I’m willing to take in what might turn out to be the right direction. We’ll see.