Acute Grief - Dealing With the
By Steve Wickham
The deep pain that is felt at the death of every
friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in
every individual something which is inexpressible,
peculiar to them alone, and is, therefore, absolutely
and irretrievably lost.
~Arthur Schopenhauer (Italics in original; modified for
There are some inconsolable times in life when "things"
are just simply too raw. For this reason it is only fair
to consider various forms of grief - separating out
profound grief so plastic platitudes are never
When I recently attended an unconscious lady, trying
with others to revive her, I wondered serenely what kind
of person she was; her lifeless body but a shadow of the
spirit of the person that lay deep within. At her loss
several hours later, she was gone, never to grace the
stage of life again--absolutely and irretrievably lost,
indeed! For her family how must it have been adjusting
to life without her?
How do we possibly reconcile acute grief?
Well, it's understandable that some days will pass
harmlessly by whilst others will be tormented with
incredulous thoughts that are barely containable. All
that could be done, truly, is to take the day as it
comes--knowing with some distant knowledge that one day
the sun will shine over our souls again.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
Sorrow makes us all children again - destroys all
differences of intellect.
The wisest know nothing.
Grief is a leveller. We could be forgiven for thinking
this depth of emotion was beyond any fellow human being;
it seems so impossible. It is of some pale relief to
know others are going through just as bad, if not worse.
But for some, what they deal with is the worst! The
worst possible thing has happened.
Know, however, that:
Grief is itself a medicine.
~William Cowper, Charity.
If you were the one grieving you might be thinking this
pithy quote is a platitude.
But the truth is, grief--whilst being impossibly
difficult--is often the nexus of new life. It can be
afterward. Grief softens us. It makes us more human if
we don't deny the pain. It makes us more compassionate
and more reachable.
Yet, this won't help the person in deep grief in the
slightest, I suspect.
Being in the heart-rending state of acute grief numbs
us. When we sleep we often don't want to wake. This
below is my favourite grief quote; it takes us into the
imagery of the heart:
Grief is a dark, lonely, private room with the curtains
drawn, where cherished memories of laughter and tears
dance with angels in the cathedral of the heart. No one
may enter. None are welcome. No words penetrate its
walls or ease the pain that fills it. The door remains
locked until the will pries it open to allow the
helpless, well-meaning, outside world to enter and
interrupt its sanctity.
~Billy Thorpe, Sex, Thugs and Rock 'n' Roll, 1996.
This quote nails it. How hard to write on a subject
where words are totally meaningless.
Yet, my own experiences of grief led me to search. And
we search much reading media. Sometimes we find what
we're after, sometimes not.
The main thing in the shrill of raw and cogently
impactful grief is don't give up--though for a day or
two you might; don't give up hope totally. One day at a
time you will climb your way out of it.
Life may never be as it was, but it will be good again.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
Steve Wickham is a Registered Safety Practitioner (BSc,
MSIA, RSP) and a qualified, unordained Christian
minister (GradDipBib&Min). His blogs are at: http://epitemnein-epitomic.blogspot.com/