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The Myopic Nature of Grief

Day 73: The Myopic Nature of Grief

My first experience of grief was at age 4, after the death of my beloved cat, Elliot. Elliot went missing one day, and then the next evening, my dad found his body in the field across from our house. He had been hit by a car.

It stuck with me that my beloved first pet died alone in that field—that he presumably was hit on the road, and then dragged himself to a place of solitude and quiet—a place he could be left alone to spend those final moments or hours. Oddly enough, the fact that he was alone didn’t concern me as a 4-year old—in fact, I remember just taking this in as what animals do when they are sick and dying—they need space, and quiet, and calm, and sometimes, even solitude.

One thing I believe about us humans is that we are animals. We cannot escape our base animal instincts and the fact that we still have our reptilian brain (basal ganglia). In my work in hospice, even the most gregarious of humans seemed to reach a state in their dying process that begged for more quiet, more internal existence, a place of having one foot in this world, and another in some other state.

I notice this same need for people who are grieving. The need to cocoon. To have quiet. To fold in on oneself for a time. To go to a place of quiet and calm and even solitude. To lick our wounds and not be bothered with other people’s reactions to them. To not take in the news around us, to not have to care for anything but the massive wound that our heart has suffered.

Feeling the need to be myopic in grief is normal. And in my opinion, it is the wise adaptation of our animal instinct.

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