Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Grief and Inserting a Pause

I remember the day I figured out that there are places and times where saying and doing nothing is the best course of action when someone is grieving.

My father died suddenly. I flew home for his funeral, then back to a full day of school and my part time job where an acquaintance offered condolences. Weary from the trip and a three hour night of rest, I didn't immediately answer him. I was afraid I would cry. For ten minutes while working, I'd forgotten about my father's death.

He didn't understand that, of course. All he saw was rudeness. He said "You should thank people when they say things like that to you."

I remember looking at him and consciously deciding not to say or do anything. I inserted a pause. I knew there was no way he'd understand what I was feeling. Nor had he created a space where I could even try to explain that to him, to excuse my lapse in manners. In the end, I realized that if I had to explain to him that I was upset and tired after what just happened, he might not understand anyway.

Since then I've watched friends deal with grief numerous times. I know that giving them the space to insert a pause may be the best thing as they deal with their loss.

Grief writes softly
Carves names in places
I stumble over like logs
From a fallen tree

On inspection I see
A carved out space
No longer graced
By leaves and branches twirled
Initials gone
That clapped the ground
A sound that went unheard

Even nature inserts its own pauses, I suppose.


Greg said...

Thanks Ruth

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful.

Meredith Gould said...