Monday, September 13, 2010

Good Grief.

Hello all. I am writing to respond to some great critical feedback I received late last night. The respondent suggested that this ought to be a place of emotional comfort on a larger scale. I absolutely agreed with her. I’ve always stood behind the idea that each person is entitled to a secret pain. Sometimes not a solitary moment or period that precedes agony. Sometimes it is less transparent—something locked deep within the closet of experience. And yet, whatever feelings emerge from that innermost self are no less “real” than my outpouring of flesh and bone.

I’ve struggled to make this a place of comfort for the griever, and yet I find myself navigating the critical questions of what that really means. In my own life, I am coming upon the five year anniversary of my own profound loss. And yet, I thankfully feel no further from profundity. And I’d argue that in many ways, from the start, I never lacked the potential for those deep thoughts. I’ve always had raw places—been full of emotion. Surely, Sophie turned me in on myself and I came back to life with a poetic drive. But, I am still me.

So, I must face the questions of what it means to grieve. For the purposes of this project, I think the term requires a definition. To grieve means to long for something. To let that thing fill up your heart. To cling to an emotion, or to allow it to grab hold and, with tenacity, steer you from moment to moment. And, so am I “in grief”? If you’ve met me, you know I laugh easily, enjoy life, grow weary, savor spicy food, and indulge in vivid daydreams. So, what of those emotions? Of course, they are no less real. No less worthy of treatment. They are part of my ongoing process of grief, and part of that glorious thing of being human, with all of its great and small feelings. And I propose that I stretch my own definition of grief to include any emotion that gets to the heart of this thing of being human.

This reader’s comment made me consider the immense value of broadening my focus. What I am really seeking to create is a place of comfort, and that means comfort for both reader and writer. I am seeking a place for the memories that tear at open wounds and those that sit forever, sweet and crystalline.  I am seeking catharsis as a way to trudge through heavy, muddy waters and, to take a break, look up briefly, and see a flash of peach-flesh sunrise. I am seeking small and large places. I am seeking beauty in a patchwork of broken human hearts. And, aren’t we all just that?


  1. A) Very punny title.

    B) This reader sounds brilliant.

  2. Yes! I've never heard it put better "and those that sit forever, sweet and crystalline." When I read your blog I picture a sparkly spiderweb with various sticky stretchy strands holding on to different branches, this intricate life.
    Mary Ann