“How on earth would a non-writer work their way through grief?” Mary understood the horror in my voice when I said it. She, too, is a writer. She wrote her way through cancer treatment. I have no doubt she will write her way through grief when the time comes, whether it is a parent, a sibling, or her husband. Loss will come to all of us.
Yes, writing about David, grief, and loss is helping me, but so is reading. Today it is H. Norman Wright’s Reflections of a Grieving Spouse. When his wife of 48 years passed away, Mr. Wright was not prepared for the sudden emptiness in his life, despite his own training as a grief and trauma counselor. Through these short chapters that include entries from his own journal, he walks the reader through the journey to healing and a new chapter in their life. I have been picking up this book and reading it in short bursts for the last two days.
I was alarmed when one of my children expressed some dismay at my continual mention of my widowhood. Were they correct, and was it not quite sane of me to offer a $5 men’s razor coupon to a total stranger in the store, then murmur, “It’s okay, take it. I won’t need it. I lost my husband a month ago,” when the young man demurred, saying he couldn’t take such a valuable coupon. “Why do you insist on telling everyone?” another daughter asked, making me doubt myself even more. Where was the Handbook of Grief I’d asked for at the funeral home? Is it a normal response for me to want to speak of David, and my loss, at every opportunity? Yes, I want to talk about it. To everyone. A lot. Is that normal?
It turns out it is perfectly normal. For me. In fact, according to Mr. Wright’s Chapter 4, we each have our own way of grieving, and all of these are included as symptoms of “normal” grief (page 20);
- Distorted thinking patterns
- “crazy” or irrational thoughts
- Fearful thoughts
- Feelings of despair and hopelessness
- Out of control or numbed emotions
- Memory lags and mental short circuits (my forgetting or losing things?)
- Inability to concentrate
- Losing track of time
- Shattered beliefs about life, the world and God
- Want to talk a lot or not at all (emphasis mine)
He then assures the reader that these responses are perfectly normal and grief takes longer than we think and tends to intensify at three months, on special dates, and at the one-year anniversary of the partner’s death. At the end of each chapter are questions for the reader, to help guide them through their own steps in accepting God’s grace and adjusting to life without their spouse.
This is a beautiful book, and one that I will be sharing with others who are grieving.