Friday, October 17, 2014

Writing about grief. Mathematics.

I wasn't sure what to write about this week. Truthfully, I rarely know exactly what I'm going to write about when I sit down for my Friday post. I know only that writing helps. That analyzing, sharing and being present with my grief through the written word helps. 

I started to write about exhaustion. But that felt trite and, really, how interesting is it to hear how tired I am? Then I began to write about the very physical nature of grief, but I've written about that before and I get tired of listening to myself say the same things over and over again. I then thought about how grief is a roller coaster. But I've written about that too, and I want that post to stand on its own since it's from the before. And then I thought about the dividing line, the before and after. But that's not for today, I'm not ready yet. I may write more about fatigue, the physical pain of grief, the inescapable cycles - heck, I probably will - but none of those are what I wanted to say today.

I started thinking about the process of writing about grief and that felt interesting. I thought about how writing shifts things and I knew what I wanted to say this week.

I've had some lovely and humbling comments about how helpful my public grief journey has been. Thank you. Honestly, I don't feel like I have a choice. By giving it voice, by writing about it, I can understand it more thoroughly and remind myself that I am neither the first nor the last to feel this way. Kevin was one in a million. Together we were one in maybe five million. But considering there are 7 billion people on this planet, we weren't as unique as I might imagine, so it helps me to think that maybe my expression of grief, my changing understanding, will be useful to one of those other thousand or so couples like us. Or, more accurately, to the remaining part of those thousand or so couples.

Giving my grief voice is important for another reason. I do not live in a culture with good models for grieving. I'm coming to think that part of my life's work is education around this inevitable part of living. If we live and love, we will experience grief. It's as simple as that. By sharing my own experience, as individual as it is, maybe the next person will be a little less afraid. Maybe they will feel a little less alone.

Maybe I'm fooling myself and this is all just self-indulgent. I'm sure that's part of it too. But that's okay. Grief is overwhelming and the mourner needs permission to experience it and to not be alone. Sometimes we all need to be indulged.

For me, part of that permission and indulgence is writing. Blogging. Journaling, which I do far more than any other form of writing. Eventually storytelling. All of this helps me believe that I still have a reason for being here and that I will be heard.

I have built my life on a public examination of my experiences. Whether I am telling a folktale, a myth, a piece of fiction or a story from my life, they are all really personal stories. Whether I am writing a blog post about grief, a recipe or directions to a place I love, they are all reflections of my own experience. Fellini said, "All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography." I don't know how to do this but to express it and I am profoundly grateful that there are people willing to share it. Here is my pearl.

I hope each of you can find your voice, however that may be. Silence gives the darkness power. Speak up. Be heard. Wail. Live.

(29 weeks. I love you.)

(c) 2014 Laura Packer
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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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