Friday, March 27, 2009

Thesaurus Meditation

I don't know why I love the thesaurus so much. I just love words and the thesaurus is like reading jazz. Take a concept, and see how many words we can use to riff on that theme. There is something beautiful about that to me. It also seems so subjective. For example, when you put happiness in the thesaurus, blessedness comes up. So does cheer, and hilarity, and laughter, and paradise. Paradise = happiness? To the thesaurus compiler, maybe, but to me, I've been depressed in paradise. Been laying on a white sanded, clear-oceaned beach crying my eyes out. Location does not equal happiness to me. Or hilarity...humor is not happiness. Something funny is temporary. I laugh all the time, but we all know that doesn't mean I am happy. Happiness is a state of being, right? Maybe one can argue that a temporary hilarity is happiness.

Because I am me, and I somehow have to dissect and analyze everything. I put grief into the thesaurus today. Just to see what comes up.

Main Entry: grief
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: mental suffering
Synonyms: affliction, agony, anguish, bemoaning, bereavement, bewailing, care, dejection, deploring, depression, desolation, despair, despondency, discomfort, disquiet, distress, dole, dolor, gloom, grievance, harassment, heartache, heartbreak, infelicity, lamentation, lamenting, malaise, melancholy, misery, mortification, mournfulness, mourning, pain, purgatory, regret, remorse, repining, rue, sadness, sorrow, torture, trial, tribulation, trouble, unhappiness, vexation, woe, worry, wretchedness

I just want to say these words together, like I want to say our children's names. One after another. Grief. Affliction. Agony. Yes. Yes. Yes...grief is all those things. But there are the small words in here that I think are why these exercises are so important for me.


Such a gentle word. Care. We all need gentle. But does this mean to care for oneself in grieving? Does it mean we mourn because we care? I clicked its hyperlink, and it read "personal interest. concern." I just love that part of the concept of grief is concern, solicitude, diligence. Care as part of grief. Of course.

Dole. I didn't exactly know what that meant in terms of grief, so I clicked it (yay, online thesaurus). Dole means allowance, Charity. That didn't seem right. I mean, yes, charity would be nice, but didn't exactly hit. So, I clicked the dictionary. 5. Archaic. one's fate or destiny. Shit.

In the definition of dolor, it says passion. YES. Passion. That is what we have...a passionate understanding of how unjust this all is. A passionate love for a child we do not get to hold again. A passion for understanding, coming to a place of peace, for loving ourselves, to forgiving ourselves. We are passionate about everything surrounding our children.

But I think the word that somehow floored me the most is disquiet. Not because it was there. I would have expected it in the list, but I dictionaried it.

dis⋅qui⋅et [dis-kwahy-it]–noun 1. lack of calm, peace, or ease; anxiety; uneasiness.

Disquiet. Lack of calm, peace or ease. Isn't this it in a nutshell? Isn't this the biggest hurdle? I want to come to a place of peace with the death of my daughter, and right now, I cannot. I still cannot even believe I never get to hold her again. It hits me everyday that this is permanent, like during the night I somehow wake again with this hope that I get her again. I wonder if this defines when we are out of our actively grieving period, when we feel a sense of ease, or peace, or even calm. Last night, I just couldn't stop crying as I ached for her. How much I want her with me. How hard it is to manage all these relationships in my life, when I really only want to focus on is finding a very beautiful handkerchief to soil. When I really only want to concentrate on my sobbing, the inhales and exhales, the particular noise I never knew I could make--noises that only exist when your child dies or you give birth, and are particularly unique when both those things happen at the same time. I cannot imagine peace right now, or calm, or ease. Disquiet, that I know something or two about.


  1. Oh yes, those are some unique noises.

  2. You fascinate me. Thank you for your tender comments on my blog. They give me a sense of peace first thing in the morning. It doesn't last long, but knowing I'm not alone gives me a tidbit of peace. I too love words. I'm a self proclaimed poet, and I have used the Thesaurus countless times to find alternative words so sound more...I dunno...poetic? Anyhow the comment you made about paradise intrigued me, so I looked up the definition for paradise:

    par⋅a⋅dise [par-uh-dahys, -dahyz] –noun 1. heaven, as the final abode of the righteous.
    2. an intermediate place for the departed souls of the righteous awaiting resurrection.
    3. (often initial capital letter) Eden (def. 1).
    4. a place of extreme beauty, delight, or happiness.
    5. a state of supreme happiness; bliss.
    6. Architecture. a. parvis.
    b. an enclosure beside a church, as an atrium or cloister.
    7. (initial capital letter, italics) Italian, Pa⋅ra⋅di⋅so  /ˌpɑrɑˈdizɔ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pah-rah-dee-zaw] the third and concluding part of Dante's Divine Comedy, depicting heaven, through which he is guided by Beatrice. Compare inferno (def. 3), purgatory (def. 2).

    That got me to thinking...paradise doesn't have to be a PLACE we go to or are at. Or as Meatloaf so ellocanlty puts it, found by the dashboard light...No, Happiness doesn't = Pardise and vice versa. When my daughter was born, I was in paradise...right in that same wretched hospital that a year later my son was born dead in. But there are moments, fleeting, where I still find my paradise, usually in my daughters laughter. I tried like Hell the week my son died to get away. To go to Hawaii or somewhere. My husband, the logical one kept telling me I wouldn't find my happiness there, my grief would follow right behind like a shadow. And I watched so many baby loss momma's try to "get away" and I wondered, did it help? And no. It never did. And I realized that grief follows you right into paradise. It follows us wherever we go. Heaven, Hell, Hawaii...I think we'll always have it, even in our happiness, even in our paradise. And that, that fact that it will never go away, that gives me the most "disquit" I can even phathom. I hope this made sense.

  3. The poetry of grief - I found this so hauntingly beautiful & painful. Thank you Angie.
    And, on the subject of happiness ...I'm hoping for contentment again someday. I've always preferred the longterm potential of contentment to the visceral kicks of happiness.

  4. Disquiet, that's it. Easily upended into despair. Sometimes when I am experiencing the raw heartache, I hear myself breathing with that same action that comes with sobbing. I don't even have to be crying anymore. I think that a part of me goes on wailing and being wretched while other parts of me carry on with the building of happy and caring for the mortals. There are 2 sets of emotions running at all times.

  5. I am thankful to you for sharing this awesome article with this helpful knowledge.
    Children's meditation


What do you think?