Deep Grief and Lost Keys

Recently I was reading a collection of religious writing and there was an essay by Patricia Monaghan called Physics and Grief about how she coped with the loss of her husband to cancer. A few months after he died, she misplaced her keys in her house, and was utterly unable to find them. She searched and searched, and finally giving up, she broke down and screamed, letting out all the accumulated grief, screaming at her husband, screaming at the universe. After, she regretted the scream, and particularly the subject: just a set of lost keys.

“If I were going to throw down the gauntlet to the universe…, couldn’t I have chosen something more important as proof? World peace? Personal economic security? A beatific vision?”

I’ve never lived through a tragedy like losing a spouse, and hope that I never do, but somehow screaming over lost keys seems entirely appropriate in a situation like hers. After suffering through something so meaningful and so horrific as a husband’s death, the least you might expect is that the little things in life would go well. I can fully see myself in her place yelling at the universe: “You took away my husband, now for fuck’s sake, at least give me my keys. You owe me that.”


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