my grief observed

March 2, 2011

If you’ve been following this blog, then you know that I have had more than enough opportunities lately to grieve the loss of people I love.  And I recently found out that one more person I love has cancer; the cancer is apparently in the early stages but requires surgery.  For those of you who are keeping count, that’s five.  Five people I love have been diagnosed with cancer in the past year and a half.

This has got to stop, folks.

Since Cindy passed away last Thursday, I have frequently found myself reflecting on how strange grief is.  As I wrote to one friend, if death happens to us all, why do we always find it surprising and shocking?  Why does grief disrupt the normalcy of our lives, ambushing us at the most inconvenient and seemingly random of times?  And why is it that in the midst of grief, I can still enjoy a gorgeous sunrise and sing a Glee song at the top of my lungs while I’m driving?

I have no answers, of course.  This would probably be a good time to re-read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.

Here are a few of my own observations of grief:

  • Grief is not just an emotional process.  Apparently it is a holistic process, in that it takes over (for a majority of the day) my body, my thoughts, my reactions.
  • Yet somehow, I am able to go about the responsibilities of my day, most of the time without crying.
  • At times, grief pushes rationality out the window altogether.  On any other day, I would be unable to justify sitting on the kitchen floor and crying, eating a ridiculous amount of chocolate, and taking long naps.  But when I’m grieving, these behaviors are perfectly acceptable.
  • Grief wears me out.  My body aches, my eyes hurt, and I am exhausted at the end of the day.  Going along with the irrationality aspect, it has not been unusual for me to go to bed before 8:30 some nights recently.  I am totally okay with that.
  • In the midst of grief, I find moments of tremendous joy.  In the midst of the joy, I usually end up asking myself, “Should I really be feeling this happy if my friend just died?”  It’s a momentary pang of guilt, but it doesn’t last.  Cindy would want me to enjoy life, I reassure myself.
  • I become very selfish.  I can’t help but think how unfair this is to me, how the grief is affecting me, how I wish didn’t have to grieve the loss of a second friend in 13 months.  A lot of what I choose to do and think while grieving is in an effort to provide myself with more comfort or to buffer the blow of the intense emotions grief stirs up.  Thankfully, most of this does not affect the people around me, but it’s pretty darn ugly inside.  The most apparent manifestation is my desire to wear pajamas 24/7.
  • I seek a sense of completion in grief, which is why I am actually looking forward to attending Cindy’s funeral tomorrow.  It is why I traveled to Chicago to attend Leah’s funeral last year.  The irony is, as I am sure you have guessed, that I will probably never quite obtain the completion I am hoping for.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Allison. I am so sorry for your loss. I join with you asking for the healing of your friends from cancer. Drop me a note if you want to talk. Sometimes it is helpful to share your grief with someone who is familiar with grieving.

    Love and blessings,

    Bob Edwards

    • Thanks, Bob. It’s nice to know that someone who has “been there” is praying and walking with me through this.

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