Summer Academy, Day 4

  • It's not taking classes that's wearing me out, nor the fact that I'm not getting home until 9:30. No, it's the fact that I'm so wound up I'm not falling asleep until midnight.
  • My new buddy (?) and I agreed after yesterday's autobiography class: we're bored with ourselves. Tired of writing and talking about ourselves. It felt tedious on Thursday.
  • I'd love to break up these classes with... volleyball? Marco Polo in a pool? Something where I can laugh and not think at all.
  • I'm noticing about myself that I'm interested in conversation (out loud, in letters, even blog ones), but the one-way stories of writing... this I may not love quite as much.
  • Hell is other people. When I'm being irritable, I'm a terrible snob about writing.
  • Which is funny, because I'm not Tolstoy myself.
  • We talked about gender differences in grief (with the understanding that they're not a rule, just sometimes the way things go). The most helpful thing I got out of this was that when men experience a loss, it may be more useful to ask, "What are the problems you're anticipating now?" rather than "how are you feeling?" This makes a lot of sense to me. I like that it's a way to start to have a conversation. By dealing with the practical rather than the emotional, we can still reach out.
  • I LOVED that Prof. Frank was very clear: the things that may complicate grieving might also be the things holding a person together. Let people grieve the way they need to. Whether you think it's the "right way" or not really doesn't matter.
  • Also: Grief is more spiral than linear. I'm certainly noticing this in my relationship with my mother. Some days I'm fine, some I'm not, and the triggers and uncertainties vary.
  • It's not unusual around month 5 or 6 (this varies, of course), for the grievers pain to peak back up to the level it was at the very beginning. Maybe that's when it sinks in that things are not going back to "normal."
I want you to know how much I've loved sharing this week with you. I'm KICKING MYSELF for not doing the same thing with the Medicine/Spirituality conference in April (though I did a lot of writing on paper, so I may go back and see if there's anything worth sharing from that). It's meant a lot to me to have your perspectives, they've enriched my understanding.


  1. Have you read The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion? When I read it, I thought a lot about daily life, especially life during deployment. Your line above, that grief peaks again at month 5 or 6, reminded me of our time in Italy. We were told that culture shock goes on for several weeks and rises and falls. I found for myself that it ramped way up again at month 5 or 6. I made a point of telling all the new people I knew to expect this, rather than think that after 2 months everything would be hunky-dory.
    Seems like we live lives of constant grieving, no?

  2. Charlotte, I haven't read it, but someone brought it up in class.

    And what you're saying about culture shock makes a lot of sense to me.

    It's funny-- "we live lives of constant grieving" is a great summary of one of the class's main points. I think it's helpful to know that it drifts in and out pretty regularly.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins