Okay Is All One Is: Biased Observations on Grieving

The process of grieving is an exercise in (un)subtle dissembly. Conjuring a collective hyper-normality, each one of us staggers against the other until the moment(s) when the contradiction overtakes itself, leaving behind a muddy sort of truth: this hurts.

Joy comes too, or its facsimile, inevitably incriminating you: a traitor, being simultaneously horrified and okay. (While one is grieving, one is always okay. And okay is all one is.*)

You learn to dread others’ greetings:

Q: “How are you?”

A: “Okay.”

Grieving conjures the absurdity of human behavior, is itself absurd, self-contradictory, organic and synthetic, an amalgam of performances tapping into the agreed-upon narratives, in turn accepted, rejected, despised, embraced. All of it claims some share of the real. Parts of it actually feel like lying (to yourself). None of it is natural. None of it is unnatural.

Such words as neurosis and sublimation come to mind.

Some of us double down on our poses and stances; some of us open up, if only slightly, and with admitted discomfort, to acknowledge the validity of the argument uttered by the death around which we huddle, from which we turn away, toward which we glance sidelong with tears:

that is, that we are simultaneously—

subjects / objects,

self-aware / self-deluded,

conscious / unconscious,

constructing / constructed—

and none of these in anything like an equal proportion at any one time.

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* Perhaps this treason is most felt when one begins (as we have) assured of the future, of resting in a specific faith about the dead and a future spiritual re-existence.

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