The other day while driving down to Vineyard Haven I tuned into one of my favorite NPR radio talk shows. The topic was grief, grieving and comeback. The guests were a renowned Rabbi and a therapist who specializes in loss. The host’s wife had died two months ago and when he describes his marriage, it’s story book. He asks us - the listeners - to call in and share our experiences but most of all he’s looking for a road map to heal. He wants advice to help him negotiate his pain.
I’m an expert on grief. I’ll call in, I think.
The Rabbi says: it's not over til its over.
One woman calls in and says: you’re lucky your relationship was so beautiful. Most people never find that kind of love. The host says: yes but its gone.
Another woman calls and says: but you’re linked forever. You’ll always be linked just in a different form.
But she’s not here, he says.
These are not road maps. They're like saying; I know just how you feel. Or, you’ll get over it in time. Or, she’s in a better place.
I know and he knows that everyone’s hearts are the right place.
I’ve entered West Tisbury and I’m dialing on my cellphone. The line is busy. I don’t know what I’ll say but I know the words will come, my being the expert and all.
Then the rabbi says touch. That’s what people need. To be touched. He shares a story about the wise man in the village who goes to the home of someone who has just lost her baby. The wise man sits in the corner and says nothing. After about an hour he gets up and hugs the young mother and he leaves. There it is. That was as good advice as anything I could have come up with. I guess I don’t need to call.
But then the psychologist says people have trouble letting out their emotions. She says a lot of her clients say they just cant cry. And now again I want to call and tell him to sob. I will tell him there are toxins in tears. So cry it out . Cry sob wail pound the dashboard of your car, get on all fours on the floor and scream why???
It’s not exactly what I did when I lost my son but its good sound advice for him. Yup, I think I better call.
Then the rabbi says people go into shock. Some people feel nothing. Even though my son Dan was sick for so long and I knew he was going to die I never ever ever ever ever ever really believed it. So when it actually happened I went numb. And now for the first time here on the radio I am hearing a description of me.
No I will not call. I have no words. I am no expert. I don’t know how anyone feels. He’s not in a better place. Everyone grieves differently. And the rabbi is right;
It’s not over til its over.
Nancy Slonim Aronie is the author of: Writing from the Heart and teaches the Chilmark Writing Workshop.
Recorded by Phil Da Rosa at TPS studios in Martha's Vineyard, produced by Viki Merrick at Atlantic Public Media