Doing laundry. Cooking dinner. Kaylee’s birthday party. Jason and Kate’s wedding. What do all these events have in common? A time, date and location in daily life. All of the tasks mentioned are given time slots listed in wall calendars and pocket-sized planners. These times and dates have been set in stone well in advance to avoid future date conflicts. The one event that can not be planned is death. Death can not be rescheduled due to inclement weather. It does not discriminate. Everyone, regardless of race or color, gets a visit. No one can prepare for the hardships endured during bereavement. Joan Didion interprets bereavement as an unpredictable concept rather than a universal human experience.
Didion introduces the essay with the routine of the universal human experience of grief. Grief is one aspect in life that one can not prepare for. The body and mind are in a “daze” processing the fact of death as a reality. The expectation of actions geared towards grief is highly specific to each individual person. As a widow herself, Didion explains the disconnection within the mind to process the reality of her spouse’s passing: “We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes”(932). Through her use of imagery, the reader could visualize a widow waiting for the reincarnation of her deceased spouse, which will never come back to retrieve his shoes. Didion, whom is a highly intelligent woman, never