“An odd byproduct of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate if it they do, and if they don’t. Some funk it altogether… I like best the well brought-up young men, almost boys, who walk up to me as if I were a dentist, turn very red, get it over, and then edge away to the bar as quickly as they decently can. Perhaps the bereaved ought to be isolated in special settlements like lepers.” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (pg. 10)
Maybe Lewis is right, maybe the bereaved and everyone whose life just simply doesn’t resemble a Halmark card should be separated from the “happy” members of society the way lepers are separated from the healthy. Not only would it save the people unable or unwilling to address some of life’s not-so-happy moments the awkwardness, but it might also create a society where it’s okay to not always feel or be okay. It might.
The trouble is, even if there isn’t a visible barrier, grief does isolate people from the rest of the world—the strained smiles, fidgety, short, and awkward conversations make it challenging for a mourner to be anything but isolated. I can’t blame someone for not understanding perfectly, everyone’s grief is unique even if they’ve lost the same person, but the social isolation resulting from a lack of upbeat and perky happenings is challenging to negotiate.
After reading A Grief Observed, a compilation of C.S. Lewis’ journal entries from after his wife passed away, I didn’t come away with answers, but it was encouraging just to know I’m not alone as I ask my questions that have no answers, when religious comfort that’s offered seems trite and cold, and I feel isolated from society. Sometimes, it’s helpful to simply know you’re not alone.