Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Good Grief!"

We seem to be engaged in grieving at my house these days. It is not that anyone has died, nor that anyone is about to kick the bucket as far as we know. But still, grief seems to be hanging thick in the air. And it is about to drive me crazy!

Because this grief is ambiguous. It has not yet revealed itself because that which we grieve has not yet come to pass. We are engaged, you see, in anticipatory grief. For my daughter, it is the grief of moving out into the world (even in a limited and still protected way as she begins her first year of college). For me, it is the grief of watching (and not being able to help) her becoming a young adult.

It has taken a lot of my energy, this anticipatory grieving. It is no wonder I've been tired and cranky on these hot summer nights. It takes a lot of energy - it is almost a full time job - to keep repressing, denying and ignoring my own grieving. Especially since my denial has run smack dab into my daughter's clinginess. It makes for an unflattering and totally tuneless duet.

Good Grief. This weekend we decided to do something about it. We decided to go away together - for just one night - and give in to the grief, to find out what there might be in it that could be construed as "good". So off we went to Bandon, where we were promised a "beachfront" room just steps away from the ocean, where puppy could run to his heart's content as we cried or prayed or watched the waves. After a couple of stops to walk the beach or swim the dog, we finally arrived at the hotel. Only to find that it was (a) NOT on the beach, (b) not even a room with a view of the beach, and (c) not even a very nice room! Don't you just love it, when the universe sends some minor irritation to distract your focus and let you vent! I really did not want to spend the money on that falsely advertised disappointment... so after another run at the ocean, we called it a day and headed for home. And of course, we discovered once again what a really great confessional the car makes when driving through the dark on a lonely road.

Good Grief. We did not need to spend a night in a motel room. We did not need to "go away" together. What we needed, in turns out, was to "stay around" together. To stay with ourselves first of all - in all our ambiguity and crankiness and fear. And then to stay with each other - in our laughter, our tears, our hopes, our dreams, our anxiety - even in our grief. Because it turns out, that is what makes for "Good Grief". It is our ability to recognize it, to accept it, to share it, and to trust that it will not overwhelm us as long as we are able to stay around, together.

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