Monday, November 3, 2008

Custom Grief

200 or so years ago, the craftsman who built our house selected strong timbers from this rugged land, felled the trees, and worked them with an adze – an axe-like tool perfectly suited to this task. This craftsman worked at a time when so-called scribe rule framing was the norm. The frame was completely hand built – and each joint is a custom work of art.

The term scribe rule refers to the precisely fit joints – although every corner post and rafter perform basically the same function, they were shaped by hand and “scribed” to fit in a certain place. “Marriage marks” helped the carpenters reassemble frame – they are essentially numbered to be precisely refit. Our house has those marks – most visible in the rafters in the attic.

This type of framing dates the house pretty well – scribe rule was gone in VT by about 1810, replaced by “square rule” – the frame parts had greater uniformity and interchangeable parts which made construction easier and faster, and compared with our modern milled lumber and balloon frames, was still highly custom.

I think about our grieving process like our scribe ruled house – it’s not mass-produced, but rather it is “Custom Grief.”

Our little one of a kind person has been lost. In the same way that he is a one-off, artisan made, unique boy, we cannot get by with production line off the shelf grieving. Like the frame of our house, we have to carefully fit our grief, and the memory of our boy, into our lives. We try to fit the pieces together precisely, hewing the joints out of the large, heavy, irregular timbers of our pain and creating something strong, square and true to withstand the winter of our loss.

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