and Beirut and Baghdad and all the other places where violence has been perpetrated on the innocent lately. But I’m still processing, as I think many of us are. (The fact that I can take my time thinking things over is a privilege I am deeply aware of. And I am truly sorry for those who have to confront these things on a daily basis.)
In the meantime, here is something that might offer some solace. One of my favorite corners of the internet is the blog written by Tania Kindersley, the author of BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS, among other lovely things. Tania is the sort of writer who elevates the blog format from just a random collection of shiny bits to thoughtful, elegant prose. Where I bounce and burble, Tania sweeps along in a statelier fashion. There is nothing remotely stuffy about her; she seems like the sort of person with whom you’d love to share a glass of vintage champagne. Instead, there is that rare commodity these days–dignity. She writes about intensely personal things without a whiff of self-indulgence or fanfare.
In recent days, Tania has been writing about the death of her mother which ought to be maudlin and awful, but instead is wonderful. Grief is not consistent; it is tidal. It ebbs and flows. Some days it recedes, leaving you flopped on the beach, gilded for just a bit by the warmth of the sun and believing something like normal life will be possible again. Some days it floods back, pulling you under so sharply it takes your breath away. Tania writes about these days with candor and grace. I hope someday these entries are collected into a book about grief.
The Victorians were familiar with death; it touched them on a regular basis, punctuating their lives with loss, and in return they acknowledged it to the point of fetish, codifying the rules of mourning. They covered mirrors and spread straw on the streets to muffle the sound of carriage wheels. We no longer drape ourselves in black for a year, and I’m glad of it–we need to be able to embrace the sunny days of bereavement without feeling unnatural. But since we have lost the culture of mourning, we have also lost the ability to sit with grief and recognize its power. We push through as if loss were a physical trial to endure, hanging on grimly until it’s loosened its hold over us.
There is a middle way, I think. A graceful, gracious way to accept the presence of grief for as long as it chooses to visit. That is what I’ve found in Tania’s writing.