Thursday, February 25, 2010

Burning houses - a reflection on grief & loss – Mark Twain

Mark Twain wrote this when his daughter of 24 years died whilst he was away on a lecture circuit:
“A man’s house burns down. The smoking wreckage represents only a ruined home that was dear through years of use and pleasant associations. By and by, as the days and weeks go on, first he misses this, then that, then the other thing. And when he casts about for it he finds that it was in the house. Always it is an essential – there was but one of its kind. It cannot be replaced. It was in that house. It is irrevocably lost. He did not realize that it was an essential when he had it; he only discovers it now when he finds himself balked, hampered by its absence. It will be years before the tale of the lost essentials is complete, and not till then can he truly know the magnitude of the disaster.”
Quoted in the book by Frederick Buechner, ‘Speak what we fell – not what we ought to say.’

I think it describes the process of grief very well, the length of the process, the sense of daily loss, and the unique ways in which we miss them at different times.

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