Monday, September 12, 2022

Notes on Grief...

"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break..." -- William Shakespeare, Macbeth

I think I shall take Billy's advice here.

This is a particularly sorrowful time at the Death Star.

It has been five weeks since the passing of Mrs. Overlord, certainly one of the saddest days of my life, and twenty-one years since the devastation of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, certainly one of the defining moments of my life.

On the first, I can only say that the wound will never ever heal. 

On the second, I can only say that the wound will never ever heal.

Perhaps that is the nature of sorrow; that it isn't supposed to ever get better. It was never intended that it should leave you, but that you should, instead, find ways to accept it and use it in some productive fashion.

I've been thinking a lot about grief, these days. It seems such a useless and painful thing that one wonders why humans were ever equipped with it, and what beneficial purpose it could ever serve. If one thinks in terms of Evolution, what need of survival caused it to develop? If one were to think in a more spiritual sense, what need of the soul is served by it?

Metaphysics and biology, however, are not my strong suits: the former seems to me to be about finding excuses for things that defy excuse or which are inexcusable, and the latter's meaning gets lost in a complex jumble of archaic Greek and Chemistry, eventually. I can find no answers in either to a very simple question:


It has always been my great misfortune -- one in which I'm sure I'm not alone in sharing -- that this elementary question has always been my greatest antagonist.

I almost always understand "Who". I often understand "What", "Where", "How" and "When", but "Why" all-too-often defies reasonable resolution.

Being something of a historian, I know that "Why" has been a considerable, if not the main, factor in the course of human advancement.

As a systems programmer I can tell you with ease how it was that some code or system that looked rock solid and elegant very quickly turned into a pile of manure.

But it may be in the nature of  some aspects of "Why" that the answer is destined to be elusive, and no amount of brainpower, no supercomputer, no amount of careful consideration will produce a satisfying, not to mention definitive, resolution.

For the time being, assuming there isn't some form of afterlife that suddenly reveals the secrets of the universe to us upon attainment that some "Whys" will have to remain unanswered, namely, why Mrs. Overlord was born with a death sentence that would ensure she suffered greatly before passing on, and why 19 lunatics decided that crashing airliners into office buildings was somehow a worthy goal.

I can tell you with certainty, however, that when it comes to grief I'm positively convinced that it makes less sense, and is far more frustrating, than the unanswered "Why", and if it were possible, I'd simply decide not to feel it and go on about my business.

I think anyone with the same sense possessed by a goldfish who experiences this nastiest and useless emotion would want the same thing. But we're all destined, I reckon, to experience it all the same, in much the same way that we all must experience any other form of pain.

Pain is the currency of Life, it seems, and if you take the trip you have to pay the fare.

I do know that I'm sick of experiencing grief, and I have met it far too often.

A dead lover.

A dead child.

Dead grandparents and relatives.

A dead parent.

Dead friends.

Thousands of strangers slaughtered before my eyes.

And of them all the two worst examples I can ever imagine:

1) The planned and deliberate murder of thousands that somehow was supposed to fulfill some insane religious fantasy, or to make a political statement. Allah cannot be just and merciful, for if he was, this would never have happened.

I fucking hate you.

2) Listening to the love of your life telling you that she loves you and begging you to let her go over a telephone with what might have been her last breaths. Thanks Dr. Fauci and China -- because of your Frankenvirus I couldn't be where I was most needed at the time I was most wanted.

I fucking hate you all, too.

The two great monstrosities that stand in defiant opposition to the furious onslaught of "Why" -- Religion and Science -- a sort of noxious yin-yang, circular-firing-squad kind of relationship that only ever leads to more "Why".

And more grief.

Neither provides any explanations; yet both claim sole possession of all the solutions.

Both about as useful now as fleas on a dog.

As for the grief, well, I guess I have to take a big bite of this shit sandwich and soldier on. One day it'll be just something I carry with me but never give much thought to, like a wart, and yet, it's still obviously a piece of me that has to be -- demands to be -- acknowledged from time to time.

What else is there to do?


Anonymous said...

Man's soaring intellect and base depravity allow us the ability to reach unimaginable highs and lows, and to explore the greatest questions of life and death, and importantly to question and validate faith. Nothing anyone can say matters, grief and it's exploration are individual, personal. I do recommend 'A Grief Observed' by Lewis. He writes a lot like you do, pointedly, clearly and not bashfully. God speed.

James said...

The truest comment anyone ever made to about the future of grief is "It always hurts as much, just less often over time."
In my old age I find memories of the past, good and bad but mostly bad, come through as bright and clear as if they just happened. They come upon me without warning one minute they are just there. I get to feel the regret for all the mistakes I have made in my life, active and passive. I don't enjoy it.