Grief is universal.
We all experience the suffocating moments that change lives. There are no bromides that actually move the process along. Cultures build the box and most times grief lives in that box.
In our home we joked about the John Wayne School of Communication, the stoicism that pushed grief down and never let it heal in the light of other humans. Prayer is a common crutch offering the illusion that something helpful is happening. Moments of gasping for breath as the sobbing overtakes are inescapable.
Keening isn’t often part of our culture. The sound is animal like. Men and women give over to being consumed, lost in the grief. Maybe keening is a hedge against depression of unresolved grief, of grief swallowed not sounded, of self medication to bearable.
Men and women lose a job, a home, a life time of expectations. They, as they knew themselves, are gone, emptied out of all they found dependable. Nothing works, no boot strap pull matters.
A person hears the partner’s declaration that the union is over, the love simply isn’t. A maze of hurt, insecure and confused, marks the lives within the ripple.
The devastation of illness is a grief played over and over, every day a family tears in the grip. Long range plans dissolve. Hope in a different future becomes one-foot-in-front-of-the other. Joy shuts down and pretend takes over.
Maybe we do keen, but not in a way that helps. Too much silence, too much John Wayne and not enough bellow against the pain. Too much stiff upper lip and not enough rage.
Last evening, a conversation about healing from cancer ended after an hour but the thoughts continued most of the night. A compassionate doctor told the patient that some of the most difficult times were the days, weeks and months when other people pronounced healing over, but it was not. Times when fear, loneliness or depression still shadowed every day, but other people felt enough was enough. Time to move on…stop dwelling on fear. Get over the grief compelling acceptance of a new life, a life of threat. Keening seems so very much in order.
Know what matters? What helps? What heals?
The touch of family/friendship, understanding of new ways that seem to mock what was once a life. The touch of family/friendship that is the knowledge that someone hears the silent keening, someone reads fake words and finds the truth, someone would respond…even when it feels impossible to ask. Someone is willing to give all the time needed. Talk about wonderful creatures!