What to Mourn

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Page Eight is a 2011 British political drama starring Bill Nighy and Rachel Weisz. The movie’s major plot line involves the Bill Nighy’s character known as Johnny. Johnny is an experienced MI5 officer. Rachael Weisz, plays the role of his neighbor, Nancy. Her life intersects Johnny’s after they meet in the hallway of the building they both live in. Following a few planned and not so planned meetings, Nancy shares a personal story with Johnny. Her story is secondary to the major plot line but it slapped me in the face when presented.

Nancy and Johnny are in Nancy’s flat. Johnny being an MI5 officer is probing Nancy on her background (he is suspicious of everyone he interacts with). We learn that Nancy is a Syrian-born activist whose brother was killed by Israeli forces. Nancy is agitated about the situation and capitalizes on Johnny’s MI5 knowledge by asking for help to answering some questions.

Nancy does not believe the reports that have come out of Syria and Israel regarding brother’s death. She is angry and upset and wants to discover the truth. She asks for Johnny’s help. She ends her emotional rant by stating, “You cannot mourn until you know the truth”.

GASP! I literally stopped breathing when she said that.

There it is.

Thank you Nancy.

Years ago, I might have called this a trigger. Today I call it a key. That simple phrase uttered by an English actor during a movie that has nothing to do with adoption has opened a door I have been banging on for a few years.

I found my daughter almost ten years ago online. We corresponded a few times. Never met face to face, never spoke on the phone. Her choice, not mine. After a year or so she tells me to stop contacting her, do not send her any more gifts, to her I am the dead author to her life story, please go away.

So, once again, like the good little girl I am conditioned to be, I go away.

Time goes by and things do get better. I find a good therapist. Much in my life changes. Things really are good.

How often — will it be for always? — how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realized my loss till this moment”? The same leg is cut off time after time.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Yet still, daily, I fight this daily anxiety. Daily, sometimes hourly, I think about her. Shit. Last week Diet Coke told me to share a drink with Amber (her original name). Several times a week I check her out online. And yet, even still, if I think too deeply for too long, I can get myself spun up in a massive depressive episode that could last for days. I try not to think too hard. I still have regular nightmares about her. I can still be surprisingly triggered when I least expect it. I still debate anti-depressant medicine.

I want this feeling to go away and for years I have pondered what more can I do.

Found her. Check.

She is alive. Check.

She is well. Errm. Do not know.

She wants to know me. Errm. No.

What the agency told me is true. Errm. Do not know.

Her adoptive parents gave her the letter I gave the agency to give to them. Errm. Do not know.

All those other million questions I have. Errmm. Do not know.

I feel I have grieved the loss of her. I feel I am still grieving her approach to reunion and I know I am yet to grieve things I do not even know I should be or could be.

How do you mourn if you do not know all the facts? I have an overwhelming need to know my full truth and I may never know that from her, my agency, or my caseworker.

How do I mourn what I am not allowed to know yet I know it is there?

Does that even make any sense?

I feel like I am teetering linguistically on Donald Rumsfeld and his idea of “unknown unknowns” and I may sound like an idiot. Do tell me if you understand the point I am trying to make.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

3 Thoughts.

  1. Pingback: Grief Observed Indeed | Writing My Wrongs

  2. I completely understand your point Suz.

    So many great quotes in this post:
    “You cannot mourn until you know the truth”.
    “Years ago, I might have called this a trigger. Today I call it a key.”
    “how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realized my loss till this moment”?”
    “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

  3. Yes, you make absolutely perfect sense!

    “I have an overwhelming need to know my full truth, and I may never know that from her, my agency, or my caseworker.”
    Oh do I understand this.

    It’s such a hard place to be when truth, your truth, is kept from you. I called several of the people ‘involved’ in the loss of my son to adoption a couple of years ago to ask what they remembered as I could remember little of the time… One of those people who I thought was only in the ”give it up for adoption” and walked away from me category, said, “I haven’t told you all …(or ANY) of the reasons why you lost your son to adoption.” because (they went on to say) I didn’t want to cause you pain.. wow. I looked at what was written and then spent the next two days pretty much curled up with a blanket and in pain. I knew and believed and experienced the whole thing as forced, no choice whatsoever I knew that was my truth but, this confirmation, sapped a lot out of me. It was freeing in one sense because it spoke to truth from someone involved! Even though it was one hell of a blow. I was told not to reply to that e-mail………… I’m still trying to get my feet back under me and then …. I will attempt to ”brave that storm” and ask, just what these ”””””””reasons”””””””’ were. I was spared no pain! I have spent the 33 years since in a great deal of pain and grief.. and I’m seeing part of that pain and grief is from being treated that way. It’s not **all** the loss of our children that does this to us. It’s the betrayal by -all- that should have been there with some kind of -true- support and encouragement (love) that hurts so much.

    “How do I mourn what I am not allowed to know yet I know it is there?” Very good question! Here’s hoping we receive the answers we need to fully mourn and heal!

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