I met a man the other day who mourned his brother. Both men were divorced (no children), and when newly single, they rekindled the closeness of their youth. They lived within a few block from each other, worked in the same area, often had lunch together or got together in the evening. They rebuilt the car one of them had bought as a teenager, and they went to car shows to display their refurbished antique. One brother worked as a new car salesperson, and often won incredible trips and cruises, which the two of them took.
The man told me about his incredible pain after his brother’s death, and added, “I didn’t even know there was such pain.”
Many of us who have lost significant people in our lives have felt the same shock at discovering there was such pain. Most of us had experienced the death of others in our lives, but one particular death — in my case, the death of my life mate/soul mate — shocked us with the depth of pain we felt. Pain we didn’t even know existed.
If this pain was in us to experience, but could only be brought out by a significant loss, what else is in us that some sort of catalyst could bring to the surface? Is there a corresponding joy? Maybe a radiance or an intense glee that is hiding from us behind our usual stoic facades? We think we know who we are and of what we are capable, but we only know what we know. We can’t know what we don’t. So what is there we don’t know?
Intense grief brings us close to eternal truths, but are there other states (perhaps less painful ones) that can also bring us such wisdom?
For a long time now, I’ve had the feeling of wanting “more,” but I don’t know what that “more” is. I have a hunch the feeling is a leftover from grief, from the knowledge that as humans, we are so much more — can feel so much more — than we ever believed possible.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.
November 7, 2018 at 3:53 am
I have thought about this alot…the lessons of grief, the personal growth potential. I have also been known to say “Universe keep your wisdom and I’ll keep my husband”. Is gaining wisdom the prize we tell ourselves we will get inorder to distract ourselves from what we lost? Like telling the poor “money can’t buy happiness”? Is wisdom gained interchangeable with peace gained? When the worst thing has happened is there a freedom in having it done? (AKA : joy defined by lack of fear)?
November 7, 2018 at 7:48 am
I don’t think whatever we have gained — wisdom, a sense of adventure, a feeling of freedom — is a trade off. It is what it is in itself, separate from their deaths. Neither positive nor negative, it’s simply the effect of our experience. In my case, I am grateful for grief. As painful as it was, it would have been so much more painful if Jeff had died and I had continued on as if his life hadn’t mattered. His life did matter and it mattered tremendously to me, and I am glad to have felt the loss of him in every cell of my being. The depth of feeling may have changed me, but it was never a trade off because Jeff’s death was not part of the equation.The choice (although it wasn’t really a choice) was in feeling grief and going where it took me or in not feeling grief.
November 7, 2018 at 4:30 pm
Thanks for giving my ideas some thought. I also like you feel that Ron’s life and death was felt in every cell of my being and his life was tremendously important to me.