I know it’s a gloomy topic, but what else could I write about on such a gloomy evening (how is this possible? The weather was so perfect during the day!). I came across another column on grief in The Globe & Mail and it took me back to an event that happened to DQ’s babysitter earlier this year.
Sarah Hampson of the G&M had interviewed Peggy Baker, choreographer and modern dancer. Baker shared intimate details about the loss of her husband to multiple sclerosis, and the wave of emotions she had experienced watching him die in front of her. I was intrigued by the metaphor she used: death is a “second labour” in the circle of life. Her husband’s mother went through labour to give life to him and while approaching death, he laboured to let go of life. Baker actually expressed a sense of “elation” after his death, I suppose because it was a surreal experience to watch a life end before your eyes (just as it is incredibly miraculous to watch a baby come into the world).
I often feel guilty that I was not present during my father’s dying moments. “Had I been, would the grieving process have been any different?”, I wonder. Would the acceptance stage have approached faster? I certainly can’t see that I would have been “elated” had I been there. I have come to believe that only those who hold very strong religious beliefs (or at least a very strong belief in some form of god) could experience joy in death. Isn’t that the whole point of religion? To find a way to accept death, to know that you can be in a better place when your body fails you? My fear of death is the only reason I sometimes feel the need to seek out a religion.
I promised I would not get into religion, however. Too delicate. (Although I reserve the right to change my mind!)
So back to grieving. Hampson’s story focused on the intensity of grief when you lose a life partner. It reminded me of when DQ’s babysitter lost her fraternal twin brother earlier this year. I couldn’t help but wonder how deep that loss must have felt. To live 27 years of your life with a twin: this other human being is an indelible part of you. To suddenly lose your twin could only feel like someone punched a hole in your heart. If I felt like a piece of me was missing when I lost a parent, I can’t begin to imagine the kind of emotions one would go through after losing a twin, never mind the survivors’ guilt, as the New York Times points out. How do you ever celebrate a birthday again?
Twin bonding is something nobody can truly understand unless one is a twin. While scientists would argue that there is a genetic rationale, I think most of it is psychic in nature (and I am not one who believes in the supernatural). How else do you explain all the stories about twins sensing pain in each other, even from miles away?
If you have been following my blog, you must be wondering if I am obsessed with death and grief, as they seems to be common topics. I guess I am a little fascinated by it because there’s so much I don’t understand about it, so I hope you bear with me if the topic comes up again.