Thank you Geraldine for that article .
It makes perfect sense to me – especially the bit about feeling so tired – people tend to look surprised when I tell them how exhausting being sad is , after all you’re not actually doing anything and you look OK ( or not ?)
So here is just a small part of the article….
”The celebrated American poet ,Edward Hirsch , had theorised about the nature of the elegy. And then his own son died in a drug-related accident, and he was left searching for words to describe his loss. Tim Adams meets the author of a ‘masterpiece of sorrow’
The poem was also an argument with a different kind of faith, Hirsch suggests. He was raised in a Jewish household but he was never a believer. In grief, though, he railed at a maker that he knew was a fiction. “One of the things that comes through in my poem, I think, is that I can’t believe in God but I can’t quite give him up either. I shake my fist at him, even though I know he isn’t there.”
He was unable to say the Kaddish, the prayer Jews have always recited daily in the first year of mourning, though he believes that 12-month period is a natural term for retreat into grief. He found people wanted to heal him in the extremes of his sorrow, or suggested medication, and sees the imperative to “move on” as a great misunderstanding in western society.
“I think ancient cultures incorporated death into the experience of life in a more natural way than we have done. In our obsessive focus on youth, on celebrity, our denial of death makes it harder for people who are grieving to fi nd a place for that grief. There is a big difference between depression and mourning. Depression is a feeling without a cause. Mourning has a cause. Many of us are carrying the dead around with us. We should not feel ashamed of that.”
He has, since his son’s death, felt that weight of grief as a physical burden, one he describes in a section of the poem:
I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night
The mountaintop is not in sight
Because there is no mountaintop
Poor Sisyphus grief
Since he has carried that weight himself, he sees it in the bearing of others, initiates in what he calls the “saddest club on Earth”. “You are in that company,” he says. “Anyone who has lost a child will tell you that they don’t recover their sense of endless possibility. Some people hide that well. But after a certain age almost everyone is carrying something like that around, I suppose.”