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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finding meaning...

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing”. A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which the hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”
- Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking

There is a dissonance between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is.
They are rarely one in the same, never really rising to the expectation of the other.

We search for meaning in all of it, often finding no satisfactory answer. Eventually relegating ourselves to the fact that we are not meant to know the answers, or it is futile to continue the relentless search. Giving up on finding meaning.

But sometimes, just sometimes you find meaning where you thought there was none to find.
What you think is going to knock you on your ass and throw you for a loop is sometimes exactly what you needed to PUSH confront that which you so feared.
And in the quest to find your purpose, you give your life new meaning.

1 comment:

  1. That is a great quote. The grief that comes from a traumatic loss is something that cannot be prepared for. Loss that knocks the wind out of you and takes our breath away is something that we deal with as best we can on a daily basis. Nothing magical about it. I think I need to add that book to my list of "eventually I read that". Thanks again for sharing!