Monday, May 9, 2011


I am stunned by the similarities between death and divorce. The two "D" words that intersect and transform our lives. I have never -- until now -- truly understood the trauma of divorce. I only knew it in a more cerebral sense -- as termination, but without the rituals that death afford us. I knew divorce only in its language of whispers and shame, and the ensuing silence, the failure. I knew it as an ending/a severing with its share of heartache, especially in the presence of shared children, but had no concept of its more profound impact.

I am intimate with the knock on the door at 2am by police officers, those bearers of ill news; and now I know the surprise of coming home from work to a dramatically altered reality, in which one has no voice, no choice. As in the unexpected death of a loved one, the axe has wielded its blow, the trunk of the tree which seemed would grow and last far beyond what anyone could ever imagine is now forever sundered, and it's not at all a clean cut but with rips and shreds of still-alive bark, the blood-work, the guts of the tree spilling and spilling.

It's a messy universe.

Now, though, there is not so much (I think, but may be wrong here) the extended grief of the larger community. When M. died, it seemed that a greater share of my grief was borne from the reflection of my own in that of my children, his parents and siblings, my siblings and their spouses, his friends and the large community that loved him, and vice versa. The physical weight of it seemed a living thing, visceral. The only way I could endure the grief in others was to attempt take carry it all myself. (Not recommended.)

This is not the case now. This is an entirely new and foreign social order. Battles lines have been established, defended. There are those who walk both sides, which, though troubling for all my sense of righteousness, illustrates on their behalf a willingness to want to see both sides of the story.

But for me, now, there exists only this staggering sadness, and sorrow for the relationship I loved/love. I don't dismiss the polarity of feelings that rampage through my nightmares, the love/hate, the anger/joy, the confusion, and this teetering on the edge of every day. I am -- as always -- primed for a moment of teary laughter (which occurs more often than not), and also leery of lingering melancholy.

Yet within this past month I've gone from the absolute terror of walking alone down the street to today's confident striding to-and-from the mile-long walk to work.

What is the path?
The destination?
A bucket-load of cash to any of you who can answer that.


  1. Divorce is so personal (unlike death). It points a finger. It says YOU are at least 50% to blame. It divides families rather than unite them. It makes people take sides. "I knew it wouldn't last". "She was always trouble". "I wouldn't trust him as far as I could spit". etc etc.

    In fact, I think death is probably easier to accept.

  2. The "path" is your own, finely honed for you alone, and the destination is why you are on this planet...........
    Ima Wizer

  3. Those other losses via divorce, of people choosing, or even not choosing, per se, one partner or the other -- that is the true sundering and shredding.

    Grim comfort here -- at least you aren't half of one those couples who nobody chooses -- everyone around, so disgusted by this couple's previous behavior(s), had divorced them both long before. Those couple are perhaps rare but I've known one or two of them in my time.

    You aren't part of one of those. Grim comfort indeed.

    You are a special and amazing person.

    Love, c.

  4. My vision of path, the one I've known, is blind curves, switchbacks, hairpin turns like a roller coaster, yet always, eventually, moving forward. I was sure all this came with a guarantee but since I've no thing I know: it will not always feel like this. If it doesn't sound too gag-producing, the destination, I believe, is each moment. xo

  5. Dear T., Nobody in your audience has had exactly the same experiences you are having, and vice versa, but most adults have had some experience with death, divorce, and dislocation, so we can sympathize. Speaking only for myself and my point of view, there is not necessarily a need to know both sides, in order to wish both parties better situations in the future. I can only speculate how different it must be for you to be able to express yourself in this way, compared to so many who suffer in isolated silence. thanks, sp