The Sane Epiphany of Grief
I’ve just finished reading Stephanie Ericcson’s “Companion Through the Darkness: Inner Dialogues on Grief” (HarperPerennial, 1993).
In her note “To the reader” at the beginning of the book, she writes:
“This book belongs to the grieving, to the truthsayers, to the bereaved who have seen the light and dark in one flash. It belongs to those who have had the blinders ripped from their eyes, who suddenly see the lies of our lives and the truths of existence for what they are. It belongs to those who feel crazy, because death has absolutely, vividly re-priortized their lives. It belongs to those who feel so small in the shadow of such profound truth. It is meant to help those who are trying to fit the very sane epiphany of grief into a world that would rather have them feel insane, so as to maintain a safe status quo.”
I have been struggling in therapy and in my journaling to express the profound impact of my husband”s death upon me and my life. I have sensed, but been unable to explain even to myself, the totality of the change that has resulted. I have stumbled (and then been frustrated and even enraged) at my inability to express what I saw, what I”m seeing, how everything has altered – inarticulate, scattered ramblings offered to my family, to my friends, and to myself. All inadequate. The English language rendered useless. My ability to communicate reduced to insignificance.
And then I read the phrase, “the sane epiphany of grief” and something fell into place. My process, my experience is maybe, after all, a reasonable response to the unreasonable, a virtually inevitable series of unexplainable “aha moments” arising from the indescribable experience of widowhood.
This is the point to which I”ve come (where I go next, I do not know). All has changed. My worldview has shifted. The value I put upon the type of work I do/will do has become paramount, rising above material considerations. Love (not only romantic love but compassion, empathy, tenderness, etc.) has surfaced as purpose, where once it was reward. The finiteness of life, the certainty of death, the potential lie inherent in the word “tomorrow” are truths I did not truly know until now. And so it seems logical, inevitable to undergo a metanoia, a profound change of mind and heart, in the face of such an experience. An epiphany? Yes. And maybe even a sane one.
This gives me some comfort.
© March 23, 2003