Grief: Haunted by the Hard Questions

One of the more confusing aspects of grief after the loss of a life mate, a child, or someone we were deeply connected to is that we are haunted by the hard questions. Who are we? Why are here? Is this all there is? Where did our loved ones go? Will we see them again? What is the meaning of life, and probably most haunting of all, what is the meaning of death?

Many of my fellow bereft read everything they can find about such matters of the spirit, but I didn’t — I’d spent years on a quest for truth and reality, and I’d come to believe that God is the spirit of creativity that fuels the universe, and we are each a part of that creativity. I was content believing that our spirit/energy returned to the whole . . . until my life mate/soul mate died. Then all of a sudden, I didn’t want that to be the truth. I wanted him to continue existing as him, as the man he was.

I do think there is a deeper reality, I’m just not sure our conscious selves are a part of it. We are a product of our genetics, our hormones, our brains (anyone who has had to cope with an Alzheimer’s sufferer or a loved one who had cancer in their brains, and found a stranger in that familiar body, knows how much the brain controls who we are). So what  survives, if anything? The part of us we never knew — the un-sub-conscious? If so, how would we know who we were after we were dead? Is it just the energy in our bodies that is released? If so, for sure we would not know who we were.

On the other hand, without some sort of afterlife, life simply does not make sense. What’s the point of it all? To survive? For what — more survival until there is no more survival? To help others? Why? So they can survive? For what?

If there is life after death, what do you do with eternity? You have no ears to hear music, no eyes to read or watch a movie, no legs to walk, no hands to caress another, no mouth to talk, no brain to think. Sounds like a horror movie to me. And what will we do if we meet again? Bask in each other’s light? That would get boring after a minute or two.

When we met — my soul mate and I — I still believed in a cosmic plan, and I had the feeling that he was a higher being come to help me on my quest to the truth. But now? I no longer believe there is a universal truth, and I don’t think he’s waiting for me, though I act as if he is. It’s better than believing that he is gone forever.

And perhaps he does still exist in some form. What do I know? One thing I have learned from my grief is that a human life is a spectrum. You don’t notice it so much when you are both alive, because you are both in the moment, both always the people you have become and not yet the people you are becoming. But when one of you dies, his becoming ceases, and you see his life as a whole. The person he was when you met is every bit as alive in memory as the person he was the minute before he died. The youthful man, the middle-aged one, the healthy one, the sick one are all merely spaces on the spectrum of his life.

It’s possible the spectrum of a human life is the same sort of spectrum as light — beginning long before the visible part appears and ending long after the visible part disappears. Of course, the non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum aren’t light but sound and radiation and other invisible waves, so whatever exists outside of the visible human spectrum might be something completely different from we can ever imagine.

It’s also possible that our bodies are like television channels, receptors for certain wavelengths, so that our “souls” actually reside outside our bodies, but still, the selves that we know are defined by life in our bodies. So, again, we come back to the same question, what of us survives?

Grief is an isolating experience, made more so by our spiritual quest. While our family and friends continue on their same daily path, we find ourselves going in a completely different direction. There are no answers to our questions, but still, they haunt us, and we try to figure out a way for it all to make sense.

But life will never make sense because we are still here and our loved ones are gone. Where is the sense in that?

Passing the Test of Grief

I am still freaked out by the imminent publication of my book, Grief: The Great Yearning. Still crying intermittently. I knew I was due for a grief upsurge since I’ve been careful to turn my mind to other things the past month or so, and grief can only be denied for so long, but this upsurge is different. It feels like the end of something — perhaps the end of a subliminal belief that his dying was a test. It could still be a test, but the reward for accomplishing this particular task of dealing with the fallout from the death of my life mate/soul mate is not our getting back together, at least not in this lifetime. And maybe not in the next. Maybe the only reward is in what I become because of his death and my grief.

When we met, I still believed in a cosmic plan, and I had the feeling that he was a higher being come to help me on my quest to the truth. But now? I no longer believe there is a universal truth, and I don’t think he’s waiting for me, though I try to pretend that he is. It’s better than believing that he is gone forever.

And perhaps he does still exist in some form. What do I know? One thing I have learned from my grief is that a human life is a spectrum. You don’t notice it so much when you are both alive, because you are both in the moment, both always the people you have become. But when one of you dies, his becoming ceases, and you see his life as a whole. The person he was when you met is every bit as alive in memory as the person he was the minute before he died. The youthful man, the middle-aged one, the healthy one, the sick one are all merely spaces on the spectrum of his life. It’s possible the spectrum of a human life is the same sort of spectrum as light — beginning long before the visible part appears and ending long after the visible part disappears. Of course, the non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum aren’t light but sound and radiation and other invisible waves, so whatever exists outside of the visible human spectrum might be something completely different from we can ever imagine.

It’s this sort of speculation that gives rise to the feeling that my grief has been test — a game, perhaps — something that is not quite real. If I keep philosophizing about death and what comes after, then I don’t have to deal with the reality that for the rest of my life, I will have to survive without the one person who knew me, who listened, who helped, who cared about every aspect of my being.

It seems as every step of this journey is worse than the last, and this next part, where I truly understand that he is gone and that I truly am alone is going to be the hardest. It takes my breath away to think of it, and leaves me teary.

Maybe grief was just the pop quiz. Maybe the real test is what I do with the rest of my life.

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