What We Notice While Grieving

The following is a post I half-wrote last month when my cat was sick (the cat has made a full recovery since). Grieving for a cat is a pale shadow of grieving for a person; however, it is still grief. Much of this post is informed by being an orphan at thirty-ever-increasing mumbles. I dedicate this post to Lyra.

I wake up and the cat, who is of generous proportions and years, is not interested in eating for the second time ever. And the first time was last night. She’s had some health problems in the past and I’m always on alert. And so I skirt the country of grief.

What I’ve noticed about grieving, of any kind, is that sometimes it gives you a hyperawareness of things around you. Often this is painful, but sometimes it is good. Here’s what I’ve noticed today (Please note that some of these references may be dated.).

1. The light this morning is silvery, which brings out the changing colors of the trees.

2. White birds look extremely white against a gray sky, perhaps they are fleeing the rain, which is coming.

3. The small kindness of friends become huge against the battering of grief. One of my undergraduate colleagues brought me a bottle of orange juice last night because I was sick.

4. When my father was dying, I wandered into a craft fair and lost a good fifteen minutes admiring the color variation and the rough imprints on a pottery vase. I’m sure the seller thought I was high, but the geometric patterns comforted me.

5. I’ve been listening to a lot of bluegrass recently, and the opening chords of the songs, the crashing banjo and driving dobro and mandolin, are gorgeous and support me in their chordal (not sure that’s the word I mean) complexity.

What do you notice?


17 responses to “What We Notice While Grieving

  1. Someone once told me that we should never have to qualify our pain by saying “it’s only a dog” and, therefore, can’t possibly compare to human loss. We are not required to grieve differently due to the type of loss. I believe this. Who can know the pain someone feels?

    And yes on the hyperawareness. The day my mother was denied pain meds shortly before she died is a day that I swear would take me thousands of pages to detail. The brushed purple of the shirt I was wearing. The loopy handwriting on her hospice chart. The patterns of the sweat running down her neck. The pungent smell of cooked cabbage.

    • As for the first bit, I somewhat agree. But I once stopped reading a blog because the title was “Crying in Public” and she wrote about crying in public about her cat. And it was written the day after the Virginia Tech shooting. So I’m more careful talking about it now.

      • That’s just ’cause I am old – can’t remember anything. If it had been here it would have been scotch. That’s all I have on my shelves. I just don’t know what you pour into your flasks. Ah, so it’s bourbon, is it?

  2. That was beautiful. I wish I had noticed things more like you did. Or had some of those things around to see. Nothing I noticed comforted me at all in the years that my mother was sick, so I tried to be very dull until she passed. I think I was grieving for myself until then. After that, the world was in color again for a while.

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