“... and the time came when the risk it took to remain in a tightly closed bud became infinitely more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Dates are peculiar things. The 22nd of September will always be memorable for me, for instance. Whenever the clock strikes 8pm on that day it’s almost like I have a minute’s silence for a time when a previous life ended and the new one began.
The ‘Non-Existentness’ of Death Doesn’t Fit Well
As living beings we cannot comprehend the ‘form’ of death. (And by death I don’t just mean loved ones who’ve died; I’m talking the death of anything or anyone special to us, for instance, divorce as a prime example—the relationship ‘died’.) Death is in many ways a sort of ‘nonexistingness’ that just doesn’t fit with our schemas in an existent world. We cannot deal very well with the gap of ‘not seeing’ that once-acutely special person, relationship or thing anymore. It is beyond our truest understanding and recognition. The pain diminishes with time and processing but the mystery of that loss never does.
But what makes it possible for us to overcome this ‘blackening’ phenomenon known to all of life is new life; a life now differently defined, holding respectfully to the past but not bound by it.
‘Timing’ Issues in Grief
The journey that takes us through grief into the moment of pain past even the pain of previous—that pain of staying solidified in the grief as opposed to breaking out to blossom—is not bound by time or anything we might propose. It simply arrives.
Earlier, I referred to the significance of dates; these now as markers for progress through the grieving process.
It is dates that provide us with a yardstick to progress. We encompass the entire spectrum of ‘returning’ emotion; painfully considered dates that now bring more calm perspective—beyond the blackening, on past the whitening, and now into the reddening, we marvel at how time’s seemed to have changed.
But times haven’t changed; we have. And thankfully so.
We have grown adept at fitting ourselves to this new form of living—that life thereafter. No longer do we hear ourselves repetitively saying the same things over and over. That time has finished. And we are thankful for it, for it was intrinsically part of our grief. We’re also ravenously thankful for those dear ones that listened.
POST SCRIPT: For those already enveloped in their grief—blackened or whitened as the case may be—keep something like this tucked under your pillow as a hope for that day when colour returns majestically to your world. This is because it will.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: Abigail Carter, The Alchemy of Loss (Sydney, Australia: Hachette, 2009). Ms. Carter’s three-division structure, “The Blackening,” “The Whitening,” and “The Reddening” is a great way to look at the journey through grief to eventual recovery unto a place where life truly begins again—most often with better perspective. Anaïs Nin’s quote is taken from Ms. Carter’s book.