Sorrow is such an empty, gut twisting feeling. It is neither a positive nor a negative emotion – it is just a natural response, a necessary healing response to a loss or a disappointment or some other calamity which occurs to you or another person. It is a natural part of the grieving process.
When my Father died it was totally unexpected. My first reaction when my brother rang to tell me was denial. I remember him telling me he’d had a heart attack and I said “but he’s alright isn’t he?” I was willing him to tell me that he was okay. I really don’t remember what happened apart from me screaming. Did my brother and husband talk? I don’t know. I’ve never asked. From that point on it was a blur of sorrow.
We were living on a remote island at the time and getting home was difficult. My husband couldn’t come as we had our own troubles we were dealing with on the island with our partner so when I did eventually manage to get off our island and then the main island to get home I did so alone.
It was good to get home into my family. We shared the sorrow. What I found amazing was how the sorrow lightened a little after the postman’s visit. The bereavement cards were poured over, the little reminiscences that people wrote we treasured and our sorrow seemed further shared. We wallowed in our sorrow and ate comfort food provided by caring neighbours and friends.
The day after my Dad’s funeral my husband was kidnapped. I put my sorrow on hold whilst I worried about him and phoned lawyers and newspapers and other Europeans on our island.
Sorrow shouldn’t be put on hold. I repressed it, buried under layers of other emotions that the slightest trigger would reignite the sorrow felt as keenly as it was felt over twenty years ago. I held it in for so long that only now can I talk about my Dad without being reduced to tears. I still can’t go to church and sit through hymns and Christmas Carols without the tears coming. I feel I have let my mother down as I know she would over the years have liked to talk about my Dad to me but I shut her down as my sorrow was still so raw I couldn’t take myself there.
“We all want to do something to mitigate the pain of loss or to turn grief into something positive, to find a silver lining in the clouds. But I believe there is real value in just standing there, being still, being sad.”
“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”