Is Irritation & Frustration a New Stage of Grief?

I’ve been blogging about my grief for almost two years, and I’ve run out of things to say. Right now I have no great insights to share, no deep emotions to purge, no angst to get out of my system. I’m just going through the motions of having a life, hoping that someday something will spark a new enthusiasm, and there’s not much to say about that. It’s just a matter of waiting to see what happens.

A couple of days ago someone told me that pain at the death of my life mate/soul mate still showed through my writing, but the truth is, I’m going through a hiatus. I’m not feeling much of anything except irritation and frustration. Do these signify a new stage of grief? Perhaps I’m nearing the end of this time of great emotions and have descended into the pit of trivial feelings. But this irritation and frustration don’t seem trivial. They loom large, coloring everything I do.

I’m irritated at having to deal with the all the foolishness of life — the eating, sleeping, grooming. I’m irritated that after all these months of grieving, I’ve gained no great insights, no great growth. I’m irritated that despite all the changes in my circumstances, life seems so much the same as usual, just infinitely sadder and lonelier. I’m irritated that he’s still dead. I mean, come on — a joke is a joke. It’s past time for him to stop playing dead so we can get on with our lives. I’m frustrated that so much seems beyond my reach — understanding, enthusiasm, wonder. And I’m frustrated at all that is within my reach — loneliness, aloneness, pointlessness. I’m both irritated and frustrated that the world still feels alien with him dead. I’m both irritated and frustrated that he hasn’t bothered to call to let me know how he’s doing. I’m frustrated that I still want to talk with him and irritated that I can’t. I’m frustrated that I’m alone and irritated that I have no one to share my life. I’m frustrated that I don’t seem to be able to get a grip on my life, and I’m irritated with my lack of motivation to even try.

I still think there could come a time when everything works out for me. (My dead life mate/soul mate was a bit of a seer, and during his last days, he told me everything would come together for me, though foolishly I never asked him what he meant.) And I’m irritated and frustrated that it hasn’t yet happened.

I keep telling myself that I’m not yet where I need to be for everything to work out, and maybe that’s true, but it doesn’t keep me from being irritated and frustrated.

Creating Perfection

Today I am at Mark David Gerson’s blog talking “All About Balance,” and he is here with an article about creating perfection. As you know, I’m planning to start writing again, so I am taking special heed of Mark David’s words. Mark David says:

Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it. 
~ Salvador Dali

Are you frustrated? 

Do you struggle to find the perfect words that consummately evoke the depth of your passion or flawlessly paint the fullness of your vision? 

Are you frustrated because the words you have chosen seem inadequate, their ordering unsatisfactory?

You’re not alone. Many writers echo your frustration.

It’s a futile frustration, for language is an approximation. It’s a powerful but often inadequate device for translating experience and emotion into a form others can share.

When I originally wrote these words for an early draft of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, the sun was sliding through a marbled Hawaii sky toward the Pacific, its light skipping across wind-rippled waters.

If I was successful in that description, you will have seen some version of an ocean sunset. Some version, but not mine.

It may approach mine. It may approximate mine. Yet my words, as expertly as I may have deployed them, cannot create a Kodak moment. (Even Kodak can’t create a perfect Kodak moment.) My words are more likely to create an Impressionist moment.

That’s not a bad thing. It gives readers space to have their own experience, to paint their own pictures from the words you have freed from your pen.

Just as you can’t control the words that flow from you, you can’t control your reader’s experience of those words. Nor would you want to.

How often have you been disappointed by a film portrayal of your favorite literary character because your inner director cast the role more astutely than the movie director did?

Empower your readers to have their own experience and recognize that all you can do is translate your experience as heartfully as you’re able into little squiggles on a page. Begin by recognizing that most of the time you’re only going to come close. Continue by knowing that it remains within your power to have your words incite revolution, topple dynasties, overthrow “reality.”

That’s perfect enough for me. How about you?

Can you let go your natural human perfectionism long enough to let your story tell itself to you on the page? 

What are you waiting for? Pick up your pen. Describe what you see, what you feel, what you yearn for, what you love. Don’t try to be perfect.

Don’t try at all. Just allow. And know that from that place of surrender, you are creating perfection.

Mark David Gerson has taught and coached writing as a creative and spiritual pursuit for nearly 20 years and is author two award-winning books, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy. He has also recorded The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers on CD. For more information on Mark David and his books, coaching, workshops, blog and radio show, visit

To rean an excerpt from The Moonquest: A True Fantasy by Mark David Gerson: click here

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