How do you look upon your tears?
Note on Sunday night.
Working on empathy in lament, in the written-down song of grief that is also weeping aloud. In front of me a videotaped discussion between academics on the lament of Thetis in the Iliad, Thetis the sea goddess who sits on the beach cradling the head of her son who lies prone on the ground, unmoving, although he is not dead. He will die in battle and both mother and son know this. There are no secrets between them. Not all the love in the world can save the son, and all the mother can do is to be with him and wait for what must happen, to grieve her loss even while he lives
She is mourning him before he dies, the professor says, and his co-facilitator on the video begins to weep, pushing a bunched up tissue under her spectacles and getting up, apologising for ‘losing it’. Watching her weep for a mother mourning her son who is to die, an unbroken continuum of mourning, a deep heart-broken mourning that has gone on for perhaps five thousand years since this lament was first sung and wept aloud, I too feel my eyes filling with tears, shared grief spilling over, I reach for a tissue and pause the video as I dry my eyes.
Continuum, empathy that is echoed and re-experienced unbroken through civilizations, centuries, generations, the grief of a mother’s loss spilling out everywhere. Grief wild and bitter and unending as the ocean itself, but contained by song. Unending grief but also shared grief, the gift of empathy. Those who will weep with us and wipe our eyes.
- National Grief Awareness Day (divineorchestrations.wordpress.com)
- The physicality of grief (amomentwithgod.com)