Quotation: “You won’t always feel the way you do now.” – C.S. Lewis

Emotions sometimes seem more real than reality itself. In a time of grief and loss, our emotions are deeper and stronger than at any other time. We feel that we may burst into tears or maybe even collapse because of these feelings of grief. We know emotion is a natural part of grief, and we know we must sometimes let it overtake us, but we don’t want to lose control of ourselves. We don’t want to magnify our grief, and we don’t want to upset others. And we may be alarmed if we think we will always feel this way. But you won’t always feel the way you do now, as C.S. Lewis has told us.

My wife had two episodes of heavy cancer treatment, each of which lasted many months. During those times, my wife and I were not emotional except in a few isolated episodes. She was almost always calm, whether the news was good or bad. Strangely, I found that I was most emotional when we had good news about her condition, not when bad news came.

When I learned that her PET scans were clear during her first cancer treatment, I broke down and cried. She then had five more good years. When we learned in the second episode that two forms of chemo had failed, we both took it as another objective challenge to be met. We were less emotional about bad news than about good news. You and your wife may have been the opposite. We can’t know in advance how we will respond emotionally to great difficulties.

Sometimes my judgment has been impaired by emotion during my time of grief. More than once, my anger over a traffic situation has become inflamed absurdly. I once growled at people in an airport when I was delayed, though I wasn’t even inconvenienced. And I have also caught myself buying things that were only attempts to soothe my grief or loneliness.

Our emotions can energize us or cripple us. The joy you feel in moments of positive forward momentum is an emotion that supports and nourishes you.

Not all grief is openly emotional. Some of our grievings go on quietly without our noticing and then reveals itself in a new feeling of peace. I’m sometimes surprised and pleased to find that my life is coming together again in a new and comfortable way. Grief has been at work behind the scenes, and I sometimes experience the happy fruit of that work when I least expect it.


Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, “WIDOW-MAN,” every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at [email protected]

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