the nest

the nest

Monday, June 23, 2014

feeling the world's sadness...

The whirlwind that is Spring with a H.S. Senior has finally wound down.  I brought Kate to Camp Calumet to work for the summer last Thursday and the house is settling into a new routine.  My niece Julia is here through the end of July and we've named her our transitional object.  She has a lovely presence about her and makes it very hard to be mopey!
There have been plenty of reasons to be blue lately... All the goodbyes over the last 2 weeks, coupled with the tragic death of a local Ellington boy, is enough to make anyone cry.  On top of that my daughter and niece and I went to see "The Fault in our Stars".  WEEPFEST.  I got a little teary but did not cry.  I expected to weep, but I didn't.

So why have I been so dry-eyed?  The older I get and the more sadness I see, the less I cry.  Especially about other people's grief.  I got teary at graduation and when dropping Katy off at Camp. I will miss her terribly and am incredibly proud of her at the same time.  Both things that make me cry.
A graduate of our H.S. in the class of 2013 was killed last week in a tragic ATV accident.  I didn't know him, but from friends and social media, I know I would have liked him.  He was an athlete, student, all around good kid. Well loved by many.  But I didn't know him.  His Mom was one of my daughter's favorite middle school teachers, but I just know her from a local committee we are on.  My heart aches for her, her husband and their other three children.  But their grief is not mine.  I felt like I should go to the local vigil, wake or funeral, but could not bring myself to go.  I prayed for them privately and offered my support to a friend who knew the boy, but I could not grieve.  His death is tragic, but their grief is not mine.
Watching the movie, I felt so sad for the characters.  It is a tragic story.  Kids, cancer, young love.... who wouldn't weep?????  me.
With the explosion of social media, the private grief of so many has become public.  We collectively mourn every time there is a shooting or when a "famous" somebody passes away.  I remember when Princess Diana was killed and the overwhelming outpouring of grief from the world seemed both touching and exploitive at the same time.
Since then, it seems that the thing to do is to take on the grief out in the world and own it.  We take it over and weep for people we have never known.  As I re-read this I feel a little cold and hard-hearted, but I don't intend it that way.  How we all deal with grief and tragedy is by nature personal.  This is not intended as a judgment on those who would outwardly grieve with and for others.  I just find myself stepping further and further away.
My first career a million years ago was as a therapist.  Therapists are trained to listen and guide.  We we're taught to maintain a level of distance because it wasn't our job to take on our clients "stuff".  I was a sponge!  I would soak it up and then come home and squeeze it out all over my sweet young family.  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't keep myself from taking on other peoples pain.  A few years ago, seeing "The fault in our Stars" would have dissolved me into a puddle.  What has happened to my heart??
Perhaps as I get older and see and hear about more and more tragedy and grief in the world, I have to protect my heart so I don't get consumed by the sadness.  Maybe my role is once again to listen and support and pray.  To be with others when they need me.  To be an observer rather than participant.

maybe that's enough.

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