Grief Magic
March 8, 2016 12:01 AM   Subscribe

What do ruined people do? Weird shit. This seems to be the consensus of psychoanalysts as far back as Freud and Jung; the traumatized self creates, out of necessity, a system of self-care that is keen to avoid repeat trauma. This makes change difficult; it makes people who’ve had part of their psyches destroyed by unmanageable emotions push people and emotions away, create obstacles, generate unnecessary drama.

[...] Grief sometimes has me grabbing the air with my hands, as if I could pull in a new feeling; trust, or something like it. Or a weapon – an axe to slay grief; a gun to shoot it through its many-chambered, always-changing, totally wretched and selfish and unfaithful heart.
posted by stoneweaver (13 comments total) 82 users marked this as a favorite
Jesus, that was a brutal, powerful read. I had to start skimming - too raw for my pregnant brain to read unfiltered. Thanks for sharing, I'll have to check out Emily Rapp's other writing.
posted by town of cats at 12:12 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wish that I had died and he had lived. Where do you go with that? It’s the primal parenting impulse turned on its head, completely around. You fail by dying, of course, of caving into the grief, plus you’re dead; but you also fail in continuing to live, because you were not able to save your child by making the trade you’d so easily make: me for him, him for me. Even Steven.

Yes, she got it right. Thanks for sharing.
posted by frumiousb at 12:18 AM on March 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

tl:dr - her child died and if you want to know any more it's probably a good, insightful essay but I couldn't.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:49 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

her mom blogged about losing her grandson on Rapp's blog about the loss as well.
posted by mwhybark at 2:05 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is the most thought-provoking piece I've seen linked on MeFi in the last few months.

but I hadn’t made it cover to cover with any kind of attention with any book in almost a year

Yeah, I have some thinking to do. In 2015 I read cover-to-cover just one. Given my usual rate that rounds down to zero. Something is very wrong here.
posted by iffthen at 3:29 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

You know, I was getting through this juuuuust fine until I got to the part where a little kid mistakes the author for his mom and runs toward her and she momentarily thinks her son is somehow alive and healthy and now I'm crying into my coffee THANKS OP
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:15 AM on March 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

Powerful! And read her mom's blog that mwhybark linked to above.
posted by mareli at 4:16 AM on March 8, 2016

I'll read this later when I'm in a quiet place where collapsing into a crying blubbering mess won't be as embarrassing. Then I will compose myself and take my kids for ice cream.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:34 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also loved this essay by Rapp written when Ronan was dying.
Are you grieving? Here’s what I learned from Batman and Mantel’s Cromwell and Katrina Trask of Yaddo. Don’t worry about how other people might perceive your process or what they think of you. Don’t worry about the quality and texture of your heart. Don’t worry about inspiring anyone, or how to be a model of someone else’s idea of resilience and survival. Show that you are broken. Let them see you sweat and scream. Own your disaster; make it into a lake, build for it a shrine — not to show your strength but to show your weakness, which is a way of showing that you are yet human, that you are not yet lost. Shine the sign of your struggle into the sky. And then light it up.
posted by there's no crying in espionage at 5:59 AM on March 8, 2016 [25 favorites]

'time to heal' ha! if you only knew. Impossible to explain.
posted by judson at 6:44 AM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ohhh, I started to read this and stopped because I'm at work and I know it will make me cry. I'll read it later tonight when I get home.

The part I did read reminded me a little of The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion which is about the year she lost both her husband and their daughter. It's a gorgeous and heartbreaking book. Another one is Thanksgiving in Mongolia by Ariel Levy. These are some of the best things I've read about loss and grief.

Thanks for sharing this.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:48 AM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Just reading the quotes other people have pulled from this has me choked up. As someone who took the last few months to process the last of my grieving behaviors from my experience with starvation, this has hit home on so many levels even though I don't have a kid.

The essay itself is... Challenging. Her description of pariahdom has me in a very, very vulnerable place.

Thanks OP for reminding me that grief is as essential as joy - that it must be accepted, not run from, and that it requires love and support from those around us to process and become a force in our lives that drives us towards the things we need, not away.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 8:55 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've lost too many people lately and am superstitiously afraid that means this year will be bringing much more loss to come. I can't read this essay all the way through because while it is extremely well-written and astute I just am not there with it, I don't want to be there with it. Grief hasn't visited me yet the way it should have by now. I mean as in reduced me to non-functioning sobbing and endless waves of aching heaving sorrow. I feel myself numbing to everything around me, never a good sign. I do relate to her reading attention issue, though with me I don't have the explanation of grief as its cause -- in fact books have been, actually, somewhat more of a solace than I would have expected them to be. I don't have any deep thoughts. Just waiting for the grief to come ...... like waiting for a train. Like, as in waiting on the tracks for the train. (No, that is NOT a suicidal ideation -- it is a metaphor. I mostly love life and being alive, and paradoxically much more so with each passing year.)
posted by blucevalo at 9:07 AM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

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