Grief is not a four-letter word

It’s a five-letter word, that receives a similar reaction to some of our favorite, though impolite four-letter words.  The recoiling, the visible retreat we observe when the subject of grief comes up, usually emanates from people unfamiliar with death and dying. 

It’s okay to grieve.  Necessary.  Without it, we can’t move forward.  Without those impolite four-letter words that are so closely associated with our questions about Owen’s death, we can’t move forward.  Nor can most who knew him.  Fuck.  See?  It works. 

I ask those around us to honor our lack of enthusiasm in things that used to excite us; our disinterest in things that used to entertain us; and our hope in finding things in this life that will help us carry on.  We find reasons to laugh, reasons to live, reasons to love.  For the moment, however, they live in a smokey, foggy realm, one that lacks clarity, lacks common sense, lacks answers. 

Love is a four-letter word that reminds us why we wake up.  It doesn’t stop the grief.  It doesn’t make the waking up less painful.  It makes it tolerable, though barely.

Missing Owen is the hardest part of our grief.  But, there’s more.  It’s the not knowing, and it prolongs our grieving in an unacceptable way.  When we lose someone to illness, we have time to prepare, if only for a few hours, a few days.  When we lose someone to an accident from known causes, we accept it as part of life’s plan.  We lost Owen to “undetermined” causes, combined with the dodging, the cryptic responses, the averted eyes, and the overt lies of those who were present on the night he went missing.  Rehearse that, in thinking of your loved ones – who would you be afterwards? 

Much of who we were, died with Owen, and we can’t explain this to you.  We pray for the day when we find a container big enough to hold the unknown, so that the burden of constantly looking for answers is lightened.  Then, maybe, we can carry on.  Maybe, then, the smoke and fog will clear a bit.

“Did I dream this belief, or did I believe this dream?  Now, I can’t find relief.  I grieve.”

Song for the night: I Grieve, Peter Gabriel


~ by Linda on November 9, 2007.

3 Responses to “Grief is not a four-letter word”

  1. We lost our 19 year old niece last year in a drowning. She ran off the road and into the water, didn’t get out of her car.
    We don’t know if she panicked, if she suffered, if she knew she was dying.
    Too many people want us to hurry up and grieve. It is difficult when you don’t know all the details. Will never know them.

    I am sorry about your son. I hope you find some answers.

  2. F… for the “undetermined”. Your right, that works.
    Love for memories.
    This song…the fog. I get it.

  3. I read an article this morning that I found very moving. Maybe you’ll get something from it:

    It’s written by a minister who had to officiate at a child’s funeral.

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