Thursday, 17 November 2016

Looking at the Peal of a Bell (the resonances of Grief)

The single peal of a bell is a strong and evocative sound. Its also rich in accoustic textures and multiple harmonic resonances (as the wave travels around the bells curve and encounters different resonance frequencies).

A single peal of a bell is perhaps also made clear by looking at the sound levels in a recording:


The recording starts with calm silence that is immediately broken by the sharp rise of the sound of that strong "dong" from the bell.

Then the sound resonates around and slowly fades.

People often think of sound as waves, and this is true ... just like waves on the ocean. But when we zoom in tightly to the bell sound we see complexity:


There is a clear repeating wave of great amplitude and lots of smaller ones embedded within it. These are the various resonances. Taking more than a first glance you'll see that no two cycles of up and down are quite the same, as the various resonances happen at different times to each other.

This not only produces the rich textured sound of a bell, but is a good metaphor for what happens in Grief.

We have our UP's and our DOWNs (all relative to a base line of calm). Sometimes on the way up a resonance can bring us momentarily down again, and sometimes on the way down a resonance can take us briefly back up again.

Over time this "disturbance" to the bells reaction to being struck reduces as the sound gradually fades and the bells surface stops shaking (vibrating).

Of course we all know that bells seldom peal only once, and often the bell is struck many times barely getting to any sort of equilibrium before being shaken once again.

This is how it is for the griever ... the interactions with others, the places and things which are reminders of memories of the one you've lost keep ringing your bell and taking your feelings on that roller coaster ride that the bells surface has.

Eventually though, we do find that we can put our own hand on the rim of our internal bell and quell those strikes of resonance with memory.

We eventually find that we can experience recollection without the severity of the ups and downs (as the bells toll diminishes too). For each of us the steadying hand to muffle those peals is different. But we do need to reach out somehow and grasp that rim to steady it. At first I know its tempting to just withdraw, but the striker will come again.

For me, I found that the effects were diminishing over time (years) and have also learned to put my fingers on the rim of my internal bell to quell the vibrations sooner.

It takes time and strength, but I hope that knowing that it will be something within your grasp makes the shaking you are suffering now more tolerable.

1 comment:

Lisa Forbes said...

What a beautiful and wise metaphor, Chris. I am glad that you are finding ways to steady the bell rim and the suffering is becoming more bearable. I hope that your post will be shared with others who are grieving deeply.