Exerpts from Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking 

page 3 Life changes fast. 

Life changes in the instant. 

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. 

The question of self-pity.

page 60 Philippe Aries. . .noted that beginning about 1930 there had been in most Western countries and particularly in the UNITED States a revolution in accepted attitudes toward death.  "Death," he wrote, "so omnipresent in the past that it was familiar, would be effaced, would disappear.  It would become shameful and forbidden."

One way in which grief gets hidden is that death now occurs largely off stage.

97 Things happened in life that mothers could not prevent or fix.

98 One thing I noticed during the course of those weeks at UCLA was that people I knew. . .shared a habit of mind usually credited to the very successful  The believe absolutely in their own management skills

I had myself for most of my life shared the same core belief in my ability to control events.

Some events would just happen.  This was one of those events.  You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

99 In order to manage it they needed only information

I had no answers.

I had no prognosis.

I did not know how this had happened.

100 I realized that the answer to the question made no difference.  It had happened.  It was the new fact on the ground.

143 That I was only now beginning the process of mourning did not occur to me.  Until now I had been able only to grieve, not mourn.  Grief was passive.  Grief happened.  Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.

195 We are repeatedly left, in other words, with no further focus than ourselves, a source from which self-pity naturally flows.

208 I have trouble thinking of myself as a widow.


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