So it goes

Stephen Colbert, in an interview for Playboy, responding to a question about the funeral of his father and two of his brothers, who had died in an airline accident:

PLAYBOY: It’s been almost four decades since it happened. Does the grief dissipate?

COLBERT: No. It’s not as keen. Well, it’s not as present, how about that? It’s just as keen but not as present. But it will always accept the invitation. Grief will always accept the invitation to appear. It’s got plenty of time for you.

PLAYBOY: “I’ll be here.”

COLBERT: That’s right. “I’ll be here when you need me.” The interesting thing about grief, I think, is that it is its own size. It is not the size of you. It is its own size. And grief comes to you. You know what I mean? I’ve always liked that phrase He was visited by grief, because that’s really what it is. Grief is its own thing. It’s not like it’s in me and I’m going to deal with it. It’s a thing, and you have to be okay with its presence. If you try to ignore it, it will be like a wolf at your door.

I was thinking about anticipatory grief the other day. For various reasons. “Grief will always accept the invitation to appear. It’s got plenty of time for you.”

I am, by nature, a disaster-planner. In situations, I always find the worst possible outcome, so I can prepare, and then work to meet the situation I am actually faced with. I count rows to the exit when I board a plane; I find the emergency exits, and I rehearse funerals in my head.

Now, Colbert’s quote–of course–is not talking about imagining or creating grief; it’s talking about experiencing grief. Nonetheless, I can’t help that it reminds me of rehearsing grief. Experiencing and re-experiencing grief are how you move through it. I believe that rehearsing grief is also part of how you move through it.

Because grief–old grief or new grief–will always come upon you, it’s nice to know in advance what you might talk about with grief.

And so, here are the original lyrics to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, preferred by me, someone who always chafes at the Sinatra-requested “hang a shining star upon the highest bow” rewrite, but who doesn’t mind the as sung-in-the-movie version:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York
No good times like the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us no more
But at least we all will be together
If the Lord allows
From now on, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

 

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