Monday, January 9, 2012

Grief: Abraham Lincoln letter to grieving girl

Sorry it has been so long between posts.  Staying up all night with my granddaughter - lovely but exhausting.  Coming to NYC - lovely but exhausting and lonely.  I never get used to what coming home means when Artie is dead.  Where is home now?

I am back to Seattle for a week and then back to NYC to start some kind of new schedule in my life.  Also have Feb. 3rd coming up which is my birthday/anniversary.  In 1996 Artie married me as a birthday present after making me wait 10 years!   It was a lot of fun when he was alive - now, not so much.  I know that date on the horizon is part of what is making me exhausted and having difficulty using my coping skills.  I have coping skills?  Yes, I do.  I need to remember that.

So...a long time between blogs and this one is - instead of my words - those of Abraham Lincoln.  This is a letter to Fanny McCullough, a 21 year old woman whose father was killed during the American Civil War (the War of Northern Aggression for southern folk). It was said aboutWilliam McCullough, her father:  "A better or braver man never fought or fell.  He died with his face to the foe, at the head of his command, thus nobly sacrificing his life for the safety of his fellows."

Here is the letter:

Dear Fanny,
It is with deep grief that I learn of the death of your kind and brave Father; and especially, that it is affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such cases. In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and , to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.  The older have learned to ever expect it.  I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress.  Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.  You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better.  Is not this so?  And yet it is a mistake.  You are sure to be happy again.  To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now.  I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.  The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart of a purer, and holier sort than you have known before.
Please present my kind regards to your afflicted Mother.
                                Your sincere friend,  A. Lincoln

As I read this I think many things.  One is, if your grief is fresh, you will have happy times again. They may be tinged with grief - but you will laugh again.  I promise that too. However, if after many years you feel that you have a sad sweet feeling that is purer and holier than anything you have know before and people want you to forget about it or get over it - you can say simply, Abraham Lincoln says that I don't have to.  He would know.  His mother died when he was young and the death of two of his sons broke his heart personally.  He also bore the grief of the death of so many young men fighting for both the North and the South.  Grief doesn't end.  It becomes less sharp and changes color and intensity. 

Wishing you the magic, faith, and/or work that it takes to transform your agony into a sad sweetness.  The ability to make your memories joyful ones and to have light in your darkness.  xo

1 comment:

  1. It is a harsh reality that even the most lovable people in our lives will have to be cremated after their demise, and you cannot see them ever after performing their last rites. Perhaps, the tradition of keeping cremation urn is meant for providing a chance of keeping the remembrances as a mark of honor to the deceased.