Thinking Through My Fingers

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. — Isaac Asimov

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. — Gustave Flaubert

Occasionally, after writing about grief, I get concerned messages from readers or facebook friends suggesting that I might want to see a therapist. Or I get messages of pity, which is strange — why should they feel sorry for me when I don’t feel sorry for myself? The very word — grief — scares people, and worries them, and my use of the word gives people the wrong impression of me. Although I’m on a journey through grief, I don’t spend my days in bed crying my eyes out. I don’t shrink from life or hold myself stiff against onslaughts of pain. I haven’t numbed myself into unfeelingness. In fact, I live normally. I’ve come through the worst of the pain stronger (though not much wiser, at least not yet). I do still have grief bursts, but mostly I’m just . . . journeying.

The problem with continually putting my thoughts and feeling out there for anyone to see is that readers draw their own conclusions based on their own experiences, and sometimes those conclusions don’t reflect my truth. I don’t always like seeing myself through pitying eyes, so periodically I decide to stop writing about grief, and sometimes I do stop for a week or two, but I always come back to it because my message is an important one:

Grief is normal. If a friend or loved one is grieving, and it bothers you, get over it. It is not your problem. Give them the respect they deserve and the space they need to find their way through grief in their own time. (Admittedly, a small percentage of people have trouble and get stuck in one place, but if a person’s grief is fluid — continually changing — chances are she is doing just fine.)

Besides, whether I’m actively grieving or just processing what I’ve learned, writing about grief is a way for me to learn the truth. (And, as I explained yesterday, in my Grief is a Gift post, I have always been a truth-seeker.) So why should I let anyone’s “concern” stop me from thinking with my fingers and discovering what I believe?

Sometimes the discoveries surprise me. In a post a few days ago, What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas?, I wrote: “Nothing you can ever say will bring the bereft what they most need: life to make sense once more. (That might not be what we most want, but it is what we most need.)” I didn’t realize this before I wrote those words, but it’s the truth. And in this post, I discovered something. I didn’t know until I saw the words, “my message is an important one” that I had a message, had something I wanted to impart with my grief posts.

So, as I continue on my journey through grief, I will still write about it — or not — depending on how I feel, not how anyone else feels.