Thursday, March 13, 2014

a permanent wound in the soul

I was having a hard time figuring out what to write about this week. This space has been a good place to explore and articulate my grief, but I haven't really felt like I've been grieving lately. It made me stop and think about what grief and grieving really are. Am I grieving when I have a happy memory of Scott? When I relish a beautiful moment with Clark? When I'm engrossed in my studies? I came across this quotation in Healing After Loss (Hickman):
After the dead are buried, and the maimed have left the hospitals and started their new lives, after the physical pain of grief has become, with time, a permanent wound in the soul, a sorrow that will last as long as the body does, after the horrors become nightmares and sudden daylight memories, then comes the transcendent and common bond of human suffering, and with that comes forgiveness, and with forgiveness comes love.
     - Andre Dubus
At first the notion that grief is a "permanent wound in the soul" struck me as a terrible thing. But I'm beginning to understand how the state of being wounded can be a state of connection. It seems like before, my grief was only about missing Scott and all of the different ways he was in my life and in the world. But now the edges of my grief are blurred. It's also about happy memories, about savoring experiences that Scott isn't here for and that I might otherwise have passed over, about making my life meaningful through my work. And it's about more than just me - it's about being able to connect with other people through forgiveness and understanding and love. I'm coming to see my grief as something much, much bigger than sadness, and I'm learning to value what it adds to my life.

This is not to say that I feel dramatically enlightened by grief. Day-to-day, it mostly feels like a subtle infusion. There are still sad times (though they've been much softer lately) and there are good times (Clark and I had an awesome getaway last weekend) and there are neutral times and boring times and frustrating times. But I do tune in to that wound now and then, and it feels valuable to me.

There's been a lot of grief in the Ultimate community recently, following the death of three players from Carleton College who were on their way to a tournament in California. (Here's a Star Tribune article about it.) Tiina Booth, who was Scott's high school coach, wrote a beautiful piece about grief: What I Think I Know. I encourage you to read it. Another response to the tragedy, Why We Play the Game, resonates as well.

Thank you for reading.
With love,


Nigel said...

As always, lots of great insights. Very grateful for you taking time to share your journey. You are inspiring..

Alison Keenan said...

All we can do is look for a new normal.

Wishing you the best,