Alphabetical Emotions: Sorrow

SSorrow 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.”

John Green

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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7 Responses to Alphabetical Emotions: Sorrow

  1. Sherri says:

    Oh Irene, what a terrible shock to lose your father without any warning and then right after his funeral having the huge worry over your husband’s kidnapping, another massive shock (are you writing about this in your book?) What an awful time for you, no wonder you weren’t able to grieve properly. You are right, sometimes though, it takes years. I know with my dad it took me years before I was able to accept things for what they were. Sorrow has it’s place and yes, sometimes we do just need to be sad and let it roll over us. The John Green quote is perfect.
    Then, after letting the sorrow roll over us comes the healing…
    Beautiful, heart-wrenching and very honest post.
    Lots of love and big hugs to you my dear friend xx


  2. Irene, I can’t even imagine the pain you went through, Your post recalled the loss of my own father, but i had the blessing to be able to grieve at the time. You write about this beautifully – you can touch people with your words.


  3. Noony says:

    I like how you speak of sorrow as neither a positive nor negative emotion – it just IS. I can’t imagine what a rough time you went through.


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