Sunday, April 17, 2011


In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis asks "Does grief finally subside into boredom tinged by faint nausea?"

I would tell him, yes, apparently it does. 

ThisThis is the "new normal" that people talk about?  Accepting that my life will always be sadder and drearier than it was before?

I remember when I was nervous about becoming a mom because I did not want it to consume my identity.  I wanted to be sure I could talk about other things and have other interests and still feel like myself.  I didn't know how much having a baby would change me and I didn't want to "lose my edge" (not because I was very edgy, but because there was so little to begin with, I had to guard it carefully).  How ironic that instead of losing my identity to motherhood, I think sometimes that I've lost it to grief.

Maybe I'm not proceeding through the steps of grief after all.  I'd been hoping to check them off neatly.  Do everything expected of a bereaved mother and prove how dedicated I am so that I can magically get my baby back.  Therapy?  check. (check, check, check, et. al). Support group?  check.  Books about grief?  check.  Memoirs about grief?  check.  Blog.  check.  Talk.  check.  Write.  check.  Read.  check.  Resume daily activities.  check.  Pursue other interests.  check.

I've known all the while that doing grief "properly" won't bring her back.  It still should make me feel better, though, right?

You start to wonder what the point of everything is when "better" still feels so shitty.

* * *
Other times, I feel surprisingly light.  My students invited me to join them at Art Hill Friday afternoon, where they planned to create a slip 'n slide out of teflon strips and buckets of water and dish soap.  I politely declined, but the thought of it still made me laugh.

I did a handstand on Friday.  For the first time ever.  In a yoga class.  The instructor had to spot me and I couldn't hold the balance for more than a few seconds, but seriously!  A handstand!  I was high on that all evening.  David commented on how happy I seemed.

I cleaned my kitchen last week.  Like really cleaned it.  I scrubbed all the appliances and vacuumed and steam cleaned behind the refrigerator.  My kitchen--it gleams!

I talked to my brother this morning.  It was Sunday night in Seoul and he was heading to bed as I was having a lazy morning watching Say Yes to the Dress.  Speaking of which, I not-so-secretly hope that he will marry a nice Korean girl some day.  Make our family cosmopolitan with an international love affair!  The Kansas/Missouri thing that David and I have going doesn't really compare.

I loved reading about the stuff you people are buying.  I'm now contemplating slip covers and throw pillows for our awful plaid couches.  I just think slip covers might be a real pain in the butt--always needing to be adjusted and probably difficult to vacuum.  Maybe we need to bite the bullet and just buy new furniture all together.  Now that could probably keep me busy for a while...

So I'm finding distractions.  I feel perfectly okay some times.  And then there are those other times...

The highs are higher these days, but the lows are still terribly low. 

And most of the times in between, I have to agree with C.S. Lewis.  It feels a lot like boredom tinged with nausea.


  1. Yup. 2.5 years out and I sometimes wonder "is this as good as it gets?". My life is now twinged with a sadness and longing for someone who will never appear. Although, it is certainly not as raw, sharp and ugly as it once was, and there are moments of utter joy, but still.

  2. I feel the same way. I'm "fine" at times, other times I realize how deeply sad losing Jack was. How unfair the world is, how much it is I really miss him. Those are the saddest of days and I wonder whether I will always feel this gaping hole in my heart, my life, etc.

    I wonder whether having another baby will take away some of the desperation. At times I think it will. But then I always come back to wishing I knew what it was to be happy and be completely blind to this kind of sorrow. And when I realize I can't have "that", I'm sad again.

  3. Yep, what Monique said. She's only a week or two ahead of me on this path, so we've been in this for the long haul together. It does get "better" but.....

  4. Interesting how he writes this isn't it? I bought a big compilation of his classic works simply to have a beautiful edition of this one piece. He was a very gifted writer...

    I wish there was a 'way' to 'do' this grieving process, but in honesty I think it is different for each of us. Some check off the boxes all in order while others skip around or begin at the end.. it is all so different.

    Your thoughts about identity really struck me tonight. It was almost 6 years ago that my oldest child was born and I fondly remember that time when I was so naive and so blissfully aware. It is strange how we look back at the moments when we were completely different people.. and wonder how on earth we have become the women that we are now. Sending you love...

  5. I wish there was a checklist you could work your way through and then you were done with grief. It really would make the process so much easier.

    I haven't reached the boredom stage yet. Is it terrible that I would welcome a bit of boring into my life?

    I know you will never get over your loss, but perhaps in time you will get better at living with it. In a way that isn't boring with a touch of nausea.

  6. I suspect normal and better may be moving targets for a while. As for the steps of grief - I found, especially during the first year after Teddy died, that grief was often crazily non-linear. I'd feel like I was making progress (whatever that means) and then, bam! - I was a mess again.

    I think the better can get better with time, if that makes sense. But Lewis's point is a good one - the consistent, every-day missing of someone is wearisome and the sameness of it can be hard to bear. I wish you didn't have to bear it.

  7. This post speaks to me so much. I joked with Dennis about being an over-achiever. And that I'm trying to be one with my grief. Like you I've got several outlets going: seeing a counselor, working out, journaling, blogging, support groups. Thinking that if I do all of this stuff maybe I'll get through it quicker...not so much. Like you, I have moments of joy, but the lows are so low. And I'm still stuck in this pain. I miss him so much. That will never change.

    I wish with everything that we didn't have to experience this. Thinking of you...