Yet the story of Orpheus, it occurs to me, is not just about the desire of the living to resuscitate the dead but about the ways in which the dead drag us along into their shadowy realm because we cannot let them go. So we follow them into the Underworld, descending, descending, until one day we turn and make our way back.— Meghan O'Rourke
The most genuine Meghan O'Rourke quotes that are glad to read
Grief is a bad moon, a sleeper wave. It's like having an inner combatant, a saboteur who, at the slightest change in the sunlight, or at the first notes of a jingle for a dog food commercial, will flick the memory switch, bringing tears to your eyes.
To mourn is to wonder at the strangeness that grief is not written all over your face in bruised hieroglyphics. And it's also to feel, quite powerfully, that you're not allowed to descend into the deepest fathom of your grief - that to do so would be taboo somehow.
There is always tension in women's gymnastics between athleticism, grace, performance, and eros.
It's a blessing not to be alone in your grief but it's also painful to see your parents and siblings in pain.
My mother died of metastatic colorectal cancer shortly before three P.
M. on Christmas Day of 2008. I don't know the exact time of her death, because none of us thought to look at a clock for a while after she stopped breathing.
Sometimes you don't even know what you want until you find out you can't have it.
One of the grubby truths about a loss is that you don't just mourn the dead person, you mourn the person you got to be when the lost one was alive. This loss might even be what affects you the most.
One of the things about grief is that it can bring a deeper perspective into your life; in the end, it has, for me, though it's also brought sorrow.
A mother is the portal by which you enter the world.
It's all too easy when talking about female gymnasts to fall into the trap of infantilizing them, spending more time worrying more about female vulnerability than we do celebrating female strength.
A mother is a story with no beginning. That is what defines her.
There is no single way of grieving. But research suggests that there are some broad similarities among grievers.
Many grievers experience intense yearning or longing after a death - more than they experience, say, denial.
Be patient with yourself. Don't make the loss harder by thinking you should be a certain way, or have bounced back, etc.
Time doesn’t obey our commands. You cannot make it holy just because it is disappearing.
What's endlessly complicated in thinking about women's gymnastics is the way that vulnerability and power are threaded through the sport.
I'm not much like my mother; that role falls to my brothers, who have more of her blithe and freewheeling spirit.
But when my mother died, I found that I did not believe that she was gone.
I live to collect information, and I am also a perfectionist.
My mother never liked Mother's Day. She thought it was a fake holiday dreamed up by Hallmark to commodify deep sentiments that couldn't be expressed with a card.
One word I had throughout the first year and a half of my mother's death was 'unmoored.' I felt that I had no anchor, that I had no home in the world.
I was not raised with religion, and I had no faith before my mother died.
On the other hand, when she died, I did not immediately feel she was "gone." I don't believe she is in something like heaven, but I also feel that we don't understand much about the nature of the universe. So I hold on to that uncertainty, at times.
One of the ideas I've clung to most of my life is that if I just try hard enough it will work out.
Faith does help mourners survive their loss, some studies suggest;
but I imagine one still struggles.
There are many kinds of loss embedded in a loss - the loss of the person, and the loss of the self you got to be with that person. And the seeming loss of the past, which now feels forever out of reach.
After all dying is one of the most profound and difficult experiences we have.
Television has never known what to do with grief, which resists narrative: the dramas of grief are largely internal - for the bereaved, it is a chaotic, intense, episodic period, but the chaos is by and large subterranean, and easily appears static to the friendly onlooker who has absorbed the fact of loss and moved on.
I think about my mother every day. But usually the thoughts are fleeting - she crosses my mind like a spring cardinal that flies past the edge of your eye: startling, luminous, lovely... gone.
Suddenly it was fall, the season of death, the anniversary of things-going-to-hell.
Our minds are mysterious; our conscious brain is like a ship on a sea that is obscure to us.
Relationships take up energy; letting go of them, psychiatrists theorize, entails mental work. When you lose someone you were close to, you have to reassess your picture of the world and your place in it. The more your identity was wrapped up with the deceased, the more difficult the loss.
I have seen that grief can be very different for different people.
While the range of emotions experienced is similar, the way we deal with those emotions isn't, necessarily.
My whole life, I had been taught to read and study, to seek understanding in knowledge of history, of cultures.
Nothing prepared me for the loss of my mother. Even knowing that she would die did not prepare me.
What had happened still seemed implausible.
A person was present your entire life, and then one day she disappeared and never came back. It resisted belief.
A mother is beyond any notion of a beginning. That's what makes her a mother.
Like my mother before me, I have always been a good speller.
We have an idea - a very modern idea - that dying is undignified.
But I think this is because we have the illusion that we can control our bodies and our fates.
Writing has always been the primary way I make sense of the world.
I envy my Jewish friends the ritual of saying kaddish - a ritual that seems perfectly conceived, with its built-in support group and its ceremonious designation of time each day devoted to remembering the lost person.
Grief is characterized much more by waves of feeling that lessen and reoccur, it's less like stages and more like different states of feeling.
One of the difficulties with grief research is that it risks making certain kinds of grief seem normal and others abnormal - and of course having a sense of the contours of grief is, I think, truly useful, one has to remember it's not a science, it's an individual reckoning, which science is just trying to help us describe.
I am the indoctrinated child of two lapsed Irish Catholics. Which is to say: I am not religious.
The people we most love do become a physical part of us, ingrained in our synapses, in the pathways where memories are created.
While I did a lot of research, I ended up feeling that the best way to write about grief was to describe it from the inside out - the show the strange intensities that come along with it, the peculiar thoughts, the longing for that past - all the strange moments of thinking you glimpse the dead person on the street, or in your dreams.
Much of Hamlet is about the precise kind of slippage the mourner experiences: the difference between being and seeming, the uncertainty about how the inner translates into the outer, the sense that one is expected to perform grief palatably. (If you don’t seem sad, people worry; but if you are grief-stricken, people flinch away from your pain.)
Funerals cost so much money, and are likely to be an additional source of stress in this recession - it's sad that we don't have a more humane, less commercialized way to approach burial.
And after my mother's death I became more open to and empathetic about other people's struggles and losses.
When my mother was sick, I found myself needing to put down in my journals all sorts of things - to try to understand them, and, I think, to try to remember them.