Death and Grieving

I have experienced two episodes of clinical depression in my life, and both had to do with death.  Other dear ones had died, and I had grieved, but these cut too close to the bone, and I slipped from grief into depression.  The first loss I pulled out of after about eight months.  The next depressive episode occurred after a loved one attempted suicide, and even though it was thankfully unsuccessful*, for me it took medication, psychotherapy, and many long talks with friends and family before my mind began to clear and I could be happy again.

Two activities especially helped me during these episodes – poetry (reading and writing) and journaling.  The poems of Emily Dickinson flashed like streaks of lightning across the dark chaos of grief, illuminating what I couldn’t put to words.

I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb

And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead, again.
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And being, but an ear,
And I and Silence some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here.

Emily Dickinson

My own previous reflections on sorrow and grief, and a book review, On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

My English professor husband’s favorite poem about grief, from Tennyson, a very short quote from a very long poem:

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
         I feel it, when I sorrow most;
         ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.


*My dear loved one is doing well.

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2 Responses to Death and Grieving

  1. lensgirl53 says:

    To grieve a suicide is beyond description, I hope you do not have to go through a completed suicide of a loved one. It is unbearable to exist. I have posted on my blog the words of William Wordsworth that come close. I wish you well.

    • Site Admin says:

      I think “copycat” suicides occur partly because of just how horrible such deaths are. And in the depths of grief, suicide can be very seductive, even when we know what it is like to be a survivor.

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