Grief is a place where many people only imagine of, but no one is willing to explore it. In many cases, grief comes because of people’s expectations. This especially happens because people do not anticipate that a state of grief can bring any imbalance of disjointedness in their lives. In most cases, people in grief have a feeling that something bad will happen, but lack knowledge of the results of such unfortunate occurrences. Death and mourning mainly happen naturally, but uncertainty makes people grieved because they have no way of controlling such situations. Joan Didion notes that death causes pain and mourning, as people do not have a precise solution to it (Didion 1). The paper analyzes the story, “Grief” by Joan Didion with the view of analyzing the source and effects of grief among people.
Grief distracts people because of the uncertainty that comes with the situations in the future. People expect death, but they do not know whether they will capable of facing the situation; thus, they become grieved on thinking of the future. The author notes that when people anticipate a bad situation, they are worried about the way they will handle it and how people will perceive their actions, which leads to grief. “When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about ‘getting through it’ (Didion 1).” The funeral represents the unfortunate or worst event that people expect while getting through the activity or failure to do so brings grief in the people. The people, however, are aggrieved by the fact that they do not understand how they will get through the situation. Uncertainty prompted by the situation threatens people making them grieved. Consequently, the best way to avoid grief understands the situation that may occur from certain events. When a funeral is anticipated, the people will know how to handle the situation.
Grief also comes because a situation that occurs may create a gap that the people affected can hardly find a way of filling. For example, death takes away people that a family can hardly replace. Didion (2) notes that, “ the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite meaning” This means that after grief, people remain with a void to fill for the person or possession that is taken by the grief. The absence continues for so long that the people miss it meaning they become sad because of the absence. Furthermore, people feel more aggrieved because the absence continues for a long time. The void left by people after grief remains for a long time. The pattern of absence of people due to grief is continuous and unending. It occurs similar to the seasons and time changes. The author notes that the void left by grief turns out to be routine in the family of the people affected by the grief; hence, it is hard for them to forget about it. The uncertainty about the future makes people uncomfortable. People essentially feel aggrieved on realizing how the person who they lost was to them.
People think about their grief moments constantly and attribute them to daily activities and occurrences. This makes the grief period hard because they can hardly forget the daily events. The author related earthquakes to the death of her husband and her own death. She pictured the death of her husband as grief that would come as the earthquake came. She states, “In my unexamined mind, there was always a point, John’s, and my death, at which the trucks would converge for a final time” (Didion 3). This means that she viewed her death and that of her husband through her daily activities. Her mind perceived grief every day through the daily activities. She thought that grief was a place through their lives. The human race was destined to this place, but people were not willing to get to it. The author saw a place where their lives would end, but she was not willing to explore the place. The fragments of photos that Didion obtained about their first house when they were newly married gave her a glimpse of how close the destiny place could be.
According to Didion, grief would mean the loss of a treasure at a time that one did not expect it. She pictured the silent life they lived in their early days of their marriage. This made her think that John’s death or her own would cause grief to the other party. They treasured each other; thus, could not think of life without each other. Her systems converged in many ways especially in their life during early days of their marriage. The serenity of the house where they lived, and the environment was one of the ways that she knew the importance of John and the pain of losing him. She says, “this was one way my two systems would have converged” (Didion 4). This shows one of the ways that she could be separated from John, and she would be in grief. She would live along, and this was a huge cause of grief.
Didion also thinks that grief would imply the loss of freedom, whether physical, mental, or physiological. She says that she did not anticipate a heart attack at the dinner table. This would make her lose her physiological freedom. At the same time, if her husband dies, she would have mental freedom deprivation, which she did not anticipate. This would leave a void that would take time to fill. In this context, she felt disturbed about the grief that before her.
Concisely, Joan Didion believed that there is a place unknown called grief no one knows about it until they reach it. She tried to understand grief and its effects, but eventually concluded that the best way to understand it was getting to it. She thought that grief arises from the uncertainty about what will occur after a situation like the effects of death and the effects of the void left. She also thought that grief mainly came from the void, which people would be unable to fill after the death of a person in the society or the family. She also thought that grief lied in the attraction of people to daily activities and the attachment of life to daily activities of people. In the end, she examines her life and the sequence of events, comparing it to grief. She concludes that as long as people still linked the daily activities they had to death, they would think about death many times, but they would only experience the grief when they get to it.
Dodion, Joan. Grief. Reflections. Chapter 65