Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Grief and Guilt

I'm 28 years old, and this is the first time in my life that I have ever known someone who died. I've been extraordinarily fortunate in that regard.

Now, I find myself, for the first time in my life, feeling personal grief. I know that what I am feeling is only a fraction of what Mike's wife feels every day, not to mention the hours and days right after his death. It's entirely different from the times I have tried to look through a window into someone else's grief, and I find myself swept away by it.

Last night, as I tried to read for my classes, I just kept staring at the same words, not comprehending. Today, my heart was not there either. I have immense obligations at school in the next week, not to mention family obligations, and I have this feeling that this grief is a selfish indulgence, a distraction. The reason I feel that way is that my thoughts are at least as much about how I feel about Mike and how it makes me feel as they are a sadness for those who survived him, who had to deal with it in a much more visceral way than I am now. I wonder if grief is always this personal -- will it be this way every time, with me thinking about what the person meant to me, instead of what they meant? Is the concept of meaning even relevant when you are talking about a person?

I just don't know.

Postscript: Shortly after posting this, my random selection of Rhapsody tunes yielded up REM's "Sweetness Follows," both melancholy and optimistic. Stipe's murmuring vocals on this track have always grabbed me by the guts, but it is especially poignant now.


Blogger ryan bradley said...

I've had to hit a few too many funerals in the last few years. My grandmother died thanksgiving of 2001. At the time it really didn't register with me. I pretty much just did what was expected of me; attended her funeral, helped clean her house to get it ready for sale, and made claim to a few of hers and my grandfather’s belongings. It took several months before it really registered that she was gone. I get emotional about it periodically when something reminds me of her and I miss her as a result..

My great uncle Waymouth died a few months ago and once again I had few emotions about it at the time. I didn't really feel bad about it at all, as I didn't know him well, until the funeral and I saw how sad his immediate family was so I became sad for them.

The meaning of life ort of that person’s life is, I think, beyond the necessary consideration of a person's death. If it helps you in coping with that persons death, than it can only be a good thing. What's always important to me, when dealing with the death of a loved one, is what that person meant to me.

In the case of mike, as your life has paralleled his to a large extent, I think it makes perfect sense that you would consider what his life meant, not just to you, but to everyone and in general, because in a way you are also contemplating what YOUR life means to those around you.

In the end, with all of this, I would say that you, sir, have a problem with guilt, and in this case have nothing to feel guilty about.

3:38 PM  

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