In-Between Thoughts 3.15.19: Grief

These are some heavy (rim shot!) thoughts to be having at the gym, but I kind of like that. It’s a good reminder to me that everyone here is going through their own stuff and situated deeply in their own minds. Maybe I can use this to learn to be more gracious about what people may be going through or immersed in mentally when SOMEONE uses the platform I AM USING AT THE SAME MOMENT TO DO MY SUMO DEADLIFTS to do calf raises WHEN THERE IS AN AWESOME CALF RAISE MACHINE 10 FEET AWAY.

**Tries on grace and tries really hard**

Nope, didn’t work. Still not feeling all that gracious, and my glare and “Come on, dude” head tilt probably communicated that. Oops.

Anyway, enough gym talk…

I’m doing some research for an upcoming podcast on (SPOILER ALERT) Grief/Depression and in the process kind of reviewing my own experiences of grief. It’s been… interesting.

As Martha Nussbaum illuminated, all emotions contain judgments of value. If I feel something about something, that is an indication that that thing effects my well-being, Either, negatively or positively sense. The presence of my husband gives me joy because I believe he adds to my overall well-being. (I kinda like him.) The presence of a past boss gives me anxiety because I believe he actively worked against my overall well-being.

Grief can be bracingly revealing. It’s also the hardest to grapple with because it indicates something is gone. Something we loved or wanted.

While there are many things to think about concerning grief and what we go through when we grieve, what I’m thinking about at the moment is what happens when or as the grief fades. What has changed in me? How am I different now, as a person, from who I was when I was grieving?

Nussbaum and her arch-rival Judith Butler (oh, you better believe we get into this on the podcast) both agree that grief is felt when we lose something or someone that means something to our sense of identity, to our sense of self. So when I have stopped grieving, what does that mean? Does that mean I have sort of patched up that hole and formed a new wholeness of self? Have I redefined myself and found satisfaction in that wholeness? Have I restructured my idea of my own eudaimonia such that that relationship no longer fits? Or have I simply made the hard, unavoidable decision that I will no longer make that person or thing a part of my identity? In other words, have my beliefs about the relationship changed, or has my sense of self changed? Is there a difference?

Is there a grieving that makes sense of the idea that now loss-of-something-dear is part of our identity? A grieving that now incorporates loss into our sense of self, that makes that pain part of our identity? And is that harmful or is that simply a healthy part of living a vulnerable, fragile life with other vulnerable, fragile humans?

I can’t help but ask questions instead of saying anything definitive here, even though I know it’s kind of annoying. Maybe that is a reflection of the nature of grief. It’s too broad, too intimate to say much definitively. We can only ask the questions that help people think through and come to their own understanding of what their grief means to them. I’m just very grateful for having loved ones in my life who make deep grief possible, in fact inevitable, in my life. Such a strange truth to human relationships: to have healthy, deep, meaningful relationships means we’re always poised on the precipice of shattering grief, that we have to be ready to reshape ourselves at any given moment.

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