Since I lost you, I am silence-haunted;
Sounds wave their little wings
A moment, then in weariness settle
On the flood that soundless swings.
— D. H. Lawrence
There are many characteristics of grief when love ends – either through divorce or death, mirroring the individuals who are going through the journey of grief. But there are also common characteristics– feelings of sadness, fear, despair and abandonment. For those who are grieving the loss of a marriage through divorce, shame and guilt enter into the equation so that grief takes on the added burden of failure.
There have been those who have studied grief, starting with John Bowlby’s famous study of orphaned infants and culminating with the writings of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her stages of grief model. And there have been hundreds who have written about the grieving process over the centuries describing in intimate detail their own version of grief. C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed wrote about the feeling of fear that seemed to over take him. “I keep on swallowing,” he explains.
One aspect of grief that stands out particularly in the early days is what D. H. Lawrence so eloquently described as “silence haunted”. “Since I lost you,” he writes, “I am silence haunted”. I think this encapsulates so accurately the feeling of loneliness that one has when the love of one’s life has departed. The world feels empty – the rooms of your house echo in non-response to your once familiar greeting, “I’m home!”
This is most common in the evening, when the hustle and bustle of the day has settled down and darkness is descending on the world. The busyness of life can make us forget, at least for a time, that love has left us and we must now face the world alone. But the night time allows little refuge for those who are grieving, particularly in those first few weeks following a loss.
The experience of being silence-haunted is part and parcel with the end of love – it is part of the price that brave souls pay for having loved and lost. Over time, this too shall pass. It is painful but also a testament to your ability to truly love someone. Whether you are grieving the loss of your spouse through divorce or death, the truth is that the terrain of grief, while well traveled, is also one that you must travel in your own way and your own time. Having taken that road, through the silence-haunted early days of grief, you will find new vistas that lie before you – waiting to be discovered.