Grief is a strange state. And it is a state of being, not a mere mood. At any moment, one is both totally immersed in it and strangely detached, observing, describing, comparing. In this state, staring mortality in the face, one becomes profoundly serious. Most of the time – in other states – we cross the street to avoid the contemplation of mortality. Perhaps we have to: otherwise, there would be no joy, no levity and silliness in life, and a little frivolity is essential to our well-being.
The death of someone we love, however, is the least frivolous event we will ever face. It commands seriousness. It encompasses everything we have been and will be. It starts a reel of memories running through one’s head and fills one’s inner ear with the voice of the person who has died. It is strangely exhausting. It touches everyone who knew that person, so that one is acutely conscious of and concerned for the grief of others, while in the middle of one’s own.
So when a kind acquaintance stops you in the street and asks how you’re doing, there is so much to tell that there is nothing to say. How do you summarise this state of being, this strange world of grief?
This post refers to the previous one, Beeches, in memoriam.