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Let the Madness Begin

Recently, I had the honor of helping a beautiful woman in profound grief over her husband's untimely and unanticipated death. He was a young man relatively speaking, in his mid to late sixties. He was her life in every way. She has such a deep love for him, that just the thought of him being away from her causes such her bottomless emotional pain.

This woman has lived a life as wife, mother, and companion -- joyfully giving of herself in every way to her husband. He was a gentle, kind, and loving soul as well as a devoted husband, father to their children and friend to her. Their living story lasted over forty years.

She cried when I said “Hello" to her. A half empty box of facial tissue sat in her lap. She smiled as best she could; I immediately felt her emotional torment. It was as if someone had yanked her up by her hair out of a blissful marriage only to leave her with raw inflamed nerve endings dangling in the cold, crisp breeze of loneliness. She hurt badly.

As we talked, I recognized that she was not too concerned about where he went when he died. She had some vague idea of heaven or a notion of the afterlife. She was concerned for herself and what would become of her. I lost a soul mate to cancer, which made me much more understanding of her question. It's hard to see the future, when the present is so clouded with pain, panic, crying, and feeling alone. There's no place to turn to get comfortable, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs.

The loss of a beloved spouse can be more devastating than the loss of a child. I wish neither hardship befalls anyone; yet, the sad reality of life is that loss occurs frequently. The truth of the matter is that life is sorrowful and filled with tragedy and trauma. These experiences transform us in one-way or another; personally, I have learned to affirm and embrace life in all of its dimensions. The death of my wife brought me to this realization, and although it was a painful path, it needed to occur in order for me to help this woman.

People who care about her worried that she would not live through the emotional trauma of her loss. Sadly, that does happen frequently, and it happens to those who deny life. As they withdraw from their painful experiences, they weaken their own grasp on living. This woman did not want to withdraw; she just did not know what was happening to her. Too many people were telling her how to "experience her loss" and trying to distract her from her pain and agony, so she had become increasingly confused.

Grief is deeply personal and has many unexplained phenomenon: spontaneous crying, panic attacks, loss of interest in anything, lack of appetite, and a feeling of aloneness – even despite an abundance of supportive children, parents, family and friends. The place in which we sit during grief has dark gray skies, gray walls, gray floors, and gray ceilings. There is no Light. Sound does not move us. Voices are immaterial. Words are irrelevant. All we can hear is the echo of our crying episodes as they bounce off our few remaining memories of the way life used to be. We realize it's gone, forever. We will never hear their voice again; the words, "I love you" are what we hang on to as we grasp the cliff by our fingernails. No more "I love you".

People who have not experienced this kind of emotional turmoil, don't understand its depth and affect on our souls; the tsunami of depression that crashes into our ego and shatters it into tiny grains of sand. The water from our tears washes the old us away. We have no one; we want nothing and fear nothing. We can only breathe. Sometimes we go days without a shower or food. There is only enough energy to fuel the tension between what was and what is.

Minutes seem like hours, hours seem like days, days seem like weeks, weeks seem like months. Life just seems to freeze. Mud's everywhere. No sunshine to warm the soul.

Just when it seems like we've descended into no return, the grains of sand begin to form another ego. One by one, they just join each other. Our heaviness begins to lift, slow and steady, one grain at a time. The imprisonment leaves, and our fresh new ego begins to operate. It has expanded in its scope and depth. We operate with a sense of Life as our focus. We realize that our loved one left us a gift, a precious endowment. Life in all its forms is both splendor and sorrow, warmth and sadness, adventure and boredom. We get to breathe one more time, and each time we do, we look for another passion to be devoted to, something else to breathe for.

I believe life's madness begins when we wake up from the sorrow and tragedy of death; when we've faced it head on and realized that we're still here. We are truly gripped by a calling to live, by a dedication to experience every day, making each moment our greatest moment, we will sacrifice our security and prestige and we will let self-development fade in the sunset and never return. We will lose our old life, so we can begin to find a new one. That is the transcendence of death. That's why it's worth grieving until the end. Until the Light returns and the sun shines proudly.

Sadly, I have met people who have never transcended the death of a loved one. They wander aimlessly pondering how they are doing instead of what they are doing to live a full and inspiring life. They become needy, grasping for any hand that might give them a soothing pat on the back. They feel abandoned when their friends have had enough of their self-pity and leave their companionship. Every day is another day to deny life; and deny that God holds its glory, both the sad and the joyous in one hand not two.

Death befalls us all in one-way or another. Those of us who grieve for that special someone or something, know that it takes time to climb up from the cliffs of despair to find a life worth living. If you are grieving deeply, know that the crying will one day stop, the panic attacks will be a distant memory, the sun will rise again even more brilliantly than before and your soul will bask in its warmth. With your newfound life, let the Madness begin. And enjoy it.

Doc
Posted by Katie Reed at 9:00 AM
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