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Grief, Considered

This night we danced

Grief is radically different when viewed from arms length. I read about it everyday in the news, it is almost as benign as the weather. I easily gloss over its bottomless depths when it applies to others.

Or I might begin to imagine what it could feel like, shudder, and then continue reading. Or perhaps skip to a different article altogether.

This one I can’t skip. Grief now covers my life in the same way as a heavy snowstorm can alter a landscape. Normalcy is buried far below the ground cover, and you don’t know where to begin to shovel.

The new normal is far less colorful, far less welcoming. Better to dwell in the subconscious of sleep.

The feverish hope we had been clinging to each day and night has been replaced, leaving in its place a cold grief. An unending sorrow.

Physically, this grief manifests as a faint feeling of nausea, 24-7, mixed with lethargy. You realize you need to eat, just to keep moving, but whatever you’re eating tastes like leather. It’s pure sustenance, nothing else.

Limbs that dove into exercise, previously, are hard to coax into action. The energy required to move them could be better put to use – just remembering. Remembering a recent past that was subtly different.

A time when someone was okay, that now is not.

Grief, I’m realizing, is really a mixture of sadness and anguish. Sadness because you miss this person, and would do anything to have them back, just for one more second, but preferably until you die first.

Anguish because we live in a world where extremely wonderful, physically superior, morally impeccable and outright supreme beings can be extinguished by disease, although they have lived their lives so carefully.

And yet so many others live on, careless to their humanity.

It seems so unfair. So unjust.

Rightly or wrongly I am furious at the medical community who didn’t know anything about his cancer, a sarcoma so out of the limelight that it receives no funding, no benefits of research.

Although he was accepting and gracious with the outcome, the one we feared most and could barely turn our minds to, I am not. I can’t stop thinking about the what if’s and the if only’s, desperate to piece together a different ending.

At this juncture, I remind myself that this has happened to countless others throughout existence, to mothers, fathers, lovers, friends, sons, daughters, friends, brothers, sisters.

Others, too, have been taken from this world far too soon.

But this, this is personal. This grief is a permafrost.

We can’t choose our family. But being his sister was fate’s greatest gift.

  1. July 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Wow–thiis post is exquisite. It literally takes my breath away–especially the line “grief is a permafrost.”

    I am so, so sorry for your anguish, your sadness–but, God, you articulate your experience stunningly!


  2. Judy Power
    July 8, 2011 at 1:35 am

    I think about John often, remember the good times and really can’t believe he is gone, he was such a wonderful person… it is….surreal. Remember the good times Deanna, and his wonderful smile, and someday you will remember and smile too.

    Thinking of all of you, especially your dear mom, I am going to be in touch with her soon.


  3. MaryBeth Curry
    July 11, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Deanna-you certainly nailed it,this is how we all are feeling.I still ask myself every day surely why could nt I ,or better yet our health care system, done more for John.It s agonizing seeing people who don t look after themselves-trudging along in life and may live to be 85..But I guess who are we tp decide what will be???Most of these things will remain a mystery…I still marvel at the accecptance John had in his final days.Definitely he eminated strength ,grace and above all LOVE despite the weakening body…I know that was from God -so as to help us.I guess we have to really embrace the faith we were raised in and know that John and Dad are up there together having a golf game and getting caught up on all the news….let us try to get through the upcoming days and embrace the things in life we are lucky to have -a loving family and good friends.Big hug to you my little sister and looking forward to seeing you and the girls in a few days…Love MaryBeth

    • July 11, 2011 at 6:05 am

      I know, I know, you are right, and it’s probably selfish of me and us to want him back for our purposes, knowing he is in a better place right now. It’s just such a gigantic hole that he’s left and it’s hard to bridge it.

  4. Joanne Lawlor
    July 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Well put Deanna …we are looking forward to having you and the girls back for a few weeks and I am hoping you and Jodi will connect when you are in London. So important for all of us to stick together as much as we can these days, also so necessary for Mom. Nice picture,(This night we danced) I remember that night well and can still see John up on the dance floor, with his infamous “grin”. He was so photgenic…look at any picture of him and he’s grinning! As I continue to sift through years of memories, I marvel at all the crazy and wonderful things he did…. trips he went on, friends he made… but most of all how much fun he always had. He was a teacher, through and through; and he has taught us some important lessons!See you soon!

  5. July 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    This just has me heartbroken and speechless. All those comforting cliches really don’t get to the point of it, so all I know to say is that I hate that you and your family are hurting. Big love from us to you guys.

  6. lucieloves
    July 16, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Really beautiful post Deanna. The permafrost you write about it just that, but slowly things do start to bloom, really they do. The memories are the seeds. I miss you and hope to see you soon, xoxo

  1. January 19, 2012 at 5:50 pm

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