That Thing That Creeps Up and Chokes Your Heart; Oh Yeah, Grief.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,—
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
Grief Has No Numbers
Dedicated to Lorelei Williams. May you rest in peace, sweet angel. 9/26/10.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote my favorite poem. It was my motto. I lived by it. "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone." In a way, it's true. Pain and grief is solitary. It feels solitary. It is solitary, even in the unity of a grieving group or having the support of others. Everyone does it in their own way. I haven't figured out what mine is.
The human nature, perhaps a sophisticated beastly nature, has provided us with larger monkey spheres than chimps can have. It's really not a joke and it is very theoretical. Its official name is Dunbar's number.
Dunbar's number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person.
So, each individual or group comes with their maximum potential for maintaining relationships or a group. While each person can have over 100,000 people in their online social networking, my feeling is that only 5% is a strong connection and thus much more closely linked into your monkey sphere. After all, I believe that's where this quote begins to make sense:
One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic. - Joseph Stalin
That quote is from a man who killed more than what he stated above. Perhaps, that will never make sense to me. In any case, grief has no numbers. Grief has stages that may go in order. Sure, you will be horribly sad, then angry, then resigned, and accept the death. But it is irrelevant to death. It is irrelevant in the face of the empty space my Lala is supposed to be occupying right now, where she held the whole group together. It is irrelevant to the deep need for solitude that will continue for years to come, when grief comes back to choke your heart. Finally, it is irrelevant to the deep connection my family had and still has to the dog who passed away. And the same goes to all we have lost and conceded to death in our lives.
Grief Has No Limits
There is no limit to dying or living. The only limitation that exists is through our own understanding of it, which is very small.
It does not hurt any less to lose an animal with which you had a very close bond with. It does not hurt any less to have never known someone who birthed you and died not long after. When grief is beset upon you, then suddenly there is no limit to grieving. There is no set time for when you decide to grieve. You just do.
Where do we draw the line? The line is a fluid thing with uncertain location. It is the line that says we can only take so much. But we keep on taking it because we certainly keep on giving.
There are no limits to the questions, to uncertainty in the seeming physical absence to our loved ones. Are they really okay where they are now? Are they loved like they were here? Maybe more so, than we ever could. That is the hope that carries us through the solitary embrace of grief. And it's really too bad that grief was given such a bad name, for grief is given to us to provide space to understand what has happened. Grieving helps through the shock of pain and loss.
We buried you in the rain
Waited on the sun to come again
It was five gray, sad days
before I felt the warmth on my face
You weren't suffering alone
But you were on your own
Whatever it was, you were face to face
We tried to save you much too late
It was the warmth that spoke to me
The warmth that said you were free
But the void is there; you're too far,
Please tell me you're okay wherever you are.