Sunday, December 13, 2009
A Single Man
Today's outing was to see the new film, A Single Man. The film is an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's story about a gay professor, George, grieving the loss of his partner due to a car accident. The film takes a very deliberate pace, which allows the viewers to experience the intense level of pain that George feels in his grief. In the story George has decided that life is not worth living without his partner, and plans to commit suicide. From that point on, we are taken along with George, as he moves about a single day, getting his affairs in order. In the end, after a series of subtle events, George must come to his own conclusion about the value of life without Jim.
I went to see this film with my cousin, who lost a boyfriend many years ago. We both knew this film would be a difficult watch, due to his past loss, and my recent loss of Michael. What we experienced was a knowing identification with the character of George. We saw that there are so many universal feelings, and responses, to the loss of a lover. There is that initial hit of reality which cuts you right at the knees. Like a heavy blow to the body, it elicits a primal scream that seems almost inhuman.
The idea that George would seriously consider ending his life is going to be unsettling for many people. The idea that I identify with this aspect of George's grief will be unsettling for many as well. Just moving about my day takes an enormous amount of energy. I have to consciously keep myself from being pulled down into the dark waters of grief. Most days I am able to manage well enough, yet there are days when grief can overtake me, and I fear that I will succumb to it's strength.
Just as the joy of love can feel bigger than life, so can grief. This blog is about being authentic, wearing no veils. I too have looked at myself in the mirror, and asked whether life is worth one more day. Am I willing to trust that the pain will lessen, and that life will be worth living? I liken this experience to being pulled down in the undertow of the ocean's waves. You can either struggle, and be thrown about, or you can trust and let go. In that moment of letting go you realize that fighting the powerful undertow can be futile. Allowing yourself to be pulled under does not necessarily mean giving up. I think there is a temptation to feel that it is too much to bear, and in those moments I have cried out, please take me. Yet by carefully allowing myself to experience the depths of my pain, I am able to feel myself gradually rise.
Sometimes when we are caught up in the trauma of our grief, each moment can feel like an eternity. In time we need to trust in our process, and remember that we have been here before. By the fact that there is a familiarity to these moments we are able to bear witness to our own survival. We are able to reassure ourselves that we will get through this.
I have reminded myself on many occasions, that I will get through this. I have reminded myself that life is worth living.