by Rosemary Gray-Snelgrove
A particular kind of absent-mindedness has overtaken me these past few weeks . My mind has been absent, unable to focus past the first few minutes. Newspapers, magazine articles, anything requiring sustained attention isn’t engaging beyond the headline. I can do all necessary things, unless I forget what’s supposed to be happening. Discover at night that I haven’t taken the morning’s meds, find when supper is served that I’ve failed to prepare the vegetables, or put the wrong burner on and they’re raw. It goes on.
Hence I’m giving up on a few things (including being the vegetable cook), just until times are normal again . Don’t expect much of me.
Writing is one of the tough tasks to settle down to. So this may be a strange one.
At the same time, am working to avoid the shame that diminished capacity brings on. Trying – periodically – to stop feeling stupid and to identify why this is happening.
Shrouded to Me, Friends Suggest the Obvious
“Of course – you’re grieving.”
“How many people you really liked have died in the past few months?! “ (About six.)
“And people you’ve loved?! (Yes, a couple)
“It’s entirely natural”.
My response – same as yours might be. “I know people who’ve lost a child. I know people who’ve lost a child and husband at the same time. I know someone who lost parents, husband, and dog in the same month”. “My losses hardly count”.
But it doesn’t work like that apparently. No scale of significance, in terms of how we feel. And so the Friends are probably right.
My current stumbling is likely directed by the amygdala – source of emotions in the brain. Normal to have the emotions – perhaps not functional to not be more familiar with them. Have hardly cried.
The emotions that are sending signals to all parts of my tired body probably reduce to simple sadness. Wikipedia articles on emotions suggest that the study of these is as yet incomplete and that present knowledge is still developing. Sadness is considered to be a passive emotion, which may be why it can sneak up and overtake a person. Resistance to drama and acting out lies deep as we mature, because of not wanting to force those around us to react and assume we need help. But the price of acting in mature ways may be a slow-growing depression. The only symptom , in my case, is the short-circuiting of effective directed action.
Learning from Spiritual Practice – Still to Come
While mildly floundering, I’m presented at the same time with the experience of several people who consistently do spiritual ‘practice ’ — designed to strengthen the inner balance between strong emotion and reasonable action.
In the face of a particularly terrible loss some dear friends are remaining open to share their lives with those they can reach, physically close or in cyberspace. Without putting on brave faces, they are allowing us into their grieving time and I find this to be bracing and heartening. They share both pain and the joy of coming to know their deceased daughter through people who knew her, loved her, respected her. They try remaining in the present which entails readiness to enter moments of great realization of loss, followed by something that makes them laugh (as seen in the video of their girl’s memorial service).
I trust they’ll be with me when any future time of loss overtakes.
This weekend I’ll be with friends and neighbours who are also dealing with the sudden awful loss of one among us. I am guessing we will all be holding each other up. I have no idea how we’ll handle it. I know that burying the pain doesn’t get rid of it but what are the alternatives?
To regain the core of competent self can’t be forced but maybe the path can be uncovered. I have to get back to being able to put a good meal on the table.