Sunday, July 20, 2008

Demands of Grief

“Sorrow breaks seasons
and reposing hours,
Makes the night morning,
and the noontide night.”

William Shakespeare

I haven't been sleeping well lately, which is nothing new for me. But, it has been extreme of late. If you get my updates on facebook you know it was daylight the last two nights before I went to bed. The last time I recall looking at the clock this morning it was 6:23.

I'm up within a few hours and go all day long again, thinking I will sleep at some point, but I don't. At 5 p.m. I'm so tired I think I will go right to sleep. But, by 7:30 or 8 I'm wide awake. Then I tell myself I'll go to bed at 10. Then it's 12:30. Then it's 2. Then it's daylight.

The other day I was talking with an acquaintance about grief. He said, "Well, you must still be grieving your brother's passing in January." It struck me anew that grief is still fresh for me. Again.

It seems the last few years events have occurred that have provided a steady stream of grief. The death of my mother in 2001 was traumatic, to say the least. Just a few weeks prior one of my best friends had died. A few months after my mother's death I made some major life changes - many of which were very positive.

But, whenever you go to something, you're leaving something else, and it had some good or you wouldn't have stayed in it. For example, I bought a house and moved, leaving an apartment I had lived in a long time. I was happy to have the house, but I had many happy memories in that apartment, too. I remember the man I loved asking me one day when were moving things if I would miss the place. I said, "no," but I quickly qualified it because those walls had been witness to many happy times in my life. Change. It's always difficult.

Before I had fully grieved my mother's passing, which took me some years to do, I lost that man I loved deeply when he decided the relationship was not working for him. In retrospect I realize that in my grief I was not the person he had fallen in love with in the first place, but I couldn't see that then. For some time I was grieving both those things. Just as I was starting to come out of that darkness, my brother was diagnosed with cancer. He fought the disease until January of this year and then grief made itself a new nest in my heart.

I've had no time to grieve my brother's passing. I think maybe that's why I can't sleep at night - grief is demanding its due. I've been down this road enough times you'd think I would grasp the nuances. Yet, one never wants to give oneself over to grief. It can be so encompassing.

Instead one fills life with cooking demonstrations and teas and work and novels and anything that keeps the mind too occupied to allow grief to envelope it. But, grief will have its time it seems, at the expense of other things - like sleep. It's probably no accident that I've spent very little time in my art studio and very little time with pen to paper in the last year, two areas where true emotion is close at hand. By the same token, it's probably no accident that I have felt "flat" for a long time. One can't keep one emotion at bay without flattening others, too.

In the years after my mother's death, when things seems so raw for so long, grief wore me out. I have been resistant to letting it lodge with me again. I'm not sure there's any more of me to give to it. But, it seems there is no choice - that it will be my companion for awhile, regardless of my attempts to deny it. Perhaps grief and I can agree to make it a brief while. I would be so thankful for that. And I know my brother wouldn't mind if this season of grief were a short one.


Anonymous said...

I'll just repeat what you already know and said. Your brother wouldn't mind if this season of grief was a short one.

Five months after my sister died, she came to speak to me one day. I still remember it so clearly even though it's been 30 years ago now.

There's not another place on earth I've ever felt the wholeness with all things that she had returned to.

Everyone grieves differently and I hope you find the comfort you need and deserve sooner rather than later.

The wholeness of all things is there for your brother.

Patsy Terrell said...

Thanks for your kind words. As Robert Frost said, and I'm paraphrasing, Life can be summed up in three words - it goes on.

Cynthia said...


Letting go is something we have to do. I am grateful when I remember that my Dad and my Aunt June are no longer sick or in pain. If you focus on their peace rather than your own loss, it makes all the difference.

Sleep is so important to our whole wellbeing. I hope that you find relief soon.

Patsy Terrell said...

Yes... we do not want our loved ones in pain. Absolutely not. Sleep has never been easy for me. Last night I went to sleep at about 3 a.m. and got up at 7:15, after waking up about 30 minutes earlier. I try to sleep. It's just not natural for me it seems.