Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not Really Moving Forward Very Well

Ok, I'm afraid I have to take that back. I'm not really moving forward very well, after all.

I thought that having a final Interlibrary Loan deadline for two important books yesterday would motivate me to finish them over the weekend. And these are fascinating and wonderful books, highly relevant for the research project that I am very much interested in and enjoying working on. Yet, I've been having a very hard time concentrating.

So Richard M's recent comment, and similar sentiments from other friends, remind me to be patient with myself. An event like this is big in a person's life.

I have felt very close to my father after receiving the news, because of course such news gets you revisiting old memories, and doing what you can to find out more about the person and his life, such as talking at length with other family members. Having a mystery associated with it all maybe intensifies the inquiry.

So, feeling so close in this sort of way, I am startled every morning when I wake up and remember that he is gone. Initially when I wake up I am happy because I feel close. Sometimes I find myself in the middle of a stream of thought and am thinking, "I can't wait to ask him about that!" But then I remember with a jolt: "Oh, wait a minute: he died! I can't ask him any of this!" And I am stunned at the finality of it. I'm really never going to see him again.

How naive of me to think after the first intense wave of emotion that that's it: I'm ready to move on. Because my father hadn't been much in my life, really, I tried to tell myself that my sadness was just a temporary intensification of a sadness I've lived with all my life, and that I'd be able to move on with my life pretty quickly then.

Each loss is its own unique story, following its own unique path of grief. And you don't really know what it is like until you are in it. Slowly it is dawning on me that I am still just barely in the early stage of grieving.

So, yes, I will try to be patient with myself.


  1. CS,

    You are still being a little too hard on yourself. You say you aren't really dealing with this very well but the evidence for your claim is that you are having trouble concentrating on philosophy books. Excuse me but reading philosophy books is hard. Temporarily not feeling up to that isn't weakness. Put this in perspective. Under the heading of "not moving forward very well" I'd put things like lying in bed all day, drinking too much, thoughts of suicide, hysterical screaming at friends, etc. If you are not exhibiting any of these symptoms then probably you are moving forward at a quite reasonable pace.

  2. I'm a social worker. I remember attending a bereavement counseling workshop many years ago in which the presenter revealed the results of a long-range study on attitudes in our culture/society about grief. Basically, a large majority of people believed that the time to get over the death of a loved one should take no more than a month!!!!

    Of course, those of us in the workshop were shocked.

    I then did a workshop on breveavement for my Meeting, and when I brought up the implications of this study on how we treat others who are going through grief, one woman said, very forcefully: "Look, you just have to get one with it. My mother taught me that. Life won't wait for you, there are things to be done. You just have to move on."

    I felt very sorry for her.

    I am glad that your last lines in the this post are that you are in the early stages and have to be patient.

    I speak from personal experience--you will know when the burden is lifting.


  3. Thank you, cath.

    And here I was, in effect trying to tell myself to snap out of it after just a week or two!

    Yes, I have decided to be patient with myself. Even though the new academic year is rapidly approaching, it's not here yet, and I can trust that I will be reasonably ready for each thing as it comes. Until then, I'll do what I can but otherwise not worry about things, but appreciate the fact that I'm not under immanent pressure right now. So I can let myself be.