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agony of grieving

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A friend came to visit this morning. The moment he walked through the door, his voice cracked and he began to weep. Something’s happened, something small by itself, he told me, that brought back a life-time of losses. I thought I was done with grieving but there it is, in full force, as if nothing’s ever healed. Feels as if the earth has opened up, ready to swallow me. I’m in free fall. How can that be, he asked, how can a person grieve for years, go to counselling, reconcile himself to losses, forgive … yet not forget? Last night, he explained, I sat reading when all of a sudden I began to sob, then howl, “I don’t want to live anymore. I want it to end. What’s the point if all this misery keeps coming back, again and again?”

All I could do is sit there, extending my full attention, watching my own tears to rise. Tears for him, for all who’re suffering, for misery that pervades life, for losses and sadness that are woven into our skin and bones. I didn’t try to answer his questions, or offer a solution, certainly no advice. But I didn’t abandon him, stayed near without crowding — we sat, he wept, we sat some more, he became quiet, we sat a while longer, and then left. 

Note: from the on-line Dictionary of Etymology: agony, “mental suffering,” from Old French agonie, agoine “anguish, terror, death agony,” from Greek agonia “a (mental) struggle for victory [in the games]. image: photo of sculpture made from paper maché by Anthony Crudelle-Janello.


One response »

  1. This afternoon, a nurse-friend at the cancer clinic pointed me to these lines by Dickens:

    “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
    — Charles Dickens. (1861). Great Expectations, p. 185.


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