People keep telling me I’m courageous to write about my grief, and perhaps it does take courage to let people see me at my most vulnerable, especially when I remember that the grieving me will be living forever in cyberspace. Even if I find peace or new meaning or happiness, that vulnerable part will still be accessible to anyone with a connection to the internet. But that is a small price to pay to be able to get my message across.
I never had a message to impart, but after the death of my life mate/soul mate, I found I did have something to say, and it is this: it’s okay to grief. Such a simple message, really, and not just meant for the bereft, but also those connected to the bereft. Too often family and friends urge their bereft loved one to “move on,” “get over it,” “stop thinking about it.” And they need to know that it’s okay for the bereft to grieve. If they can’t handle their loved one’s grief, imagine how much harder it is for the bereft to handle the pain.
We live in a society that values cheerfulness at all costs, and sometimes, when it comes to grief, the cost of putting on a cheery mien to make others feel better is simply too high. Despite what people seem to think, happiness and joy are not the only allowable emotions. Grief is important, too. If the bereft shows no danger signs, such as drinking too much, blocking out family and friends for many months, suicidal impulses such as stockpiling pills, then it’s better to let grief take its course.
Grief is how we learn how to adapt to a world without — without our loved ones’ presence, without their friendship, without their support, without their love —and it is possible to learn how adapt well enough so that we can live, laugh, love again. Grief digs deep into our psyche, allowing us to ask the important questions that get lost in the activity of daily life: who am I, why am I here, and what’s it all about? Even more important, perhaps, grief helps us to grow in courage, strength, wisdom. It would be nice if happiness and easy living gave us such attributes, and sometimes they do, but more often growth comes with adversity.
Although we bereft often wish to be done with our grief, we would resist anyone who tried to take it away from us. It is ours. Its lessons are ours to learn. Its power to reshape us into people who can deal with anything is ours to grasp.
Apparently, as I’ve been writing this bloggerie, I’ve amended my message. Not only is it important to grieve, it is necessary.
May 1, 2012 at 8:57 am
Yesterday, my husband and I were visiting with our daughter’s father-in-law who was widowed 15 months ago. He and his wife had been married over 60 years. He said a widow friend (still grieving the loss of her husband) called him up and said, “Would there anything wrong with us going out together for coffee?” So a friendship has grown deeper. They go out together and talk about their deceased mates. Jim said he’ll never marry again but it helps pass the time and it’s nice to have someone to listen to him. You might consider something like that. Sounds very helpful. Have a great day, Pat.
May 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm
Thanks for the suggestion, but I’ve been doing that for two years now.
June 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is one of the best authors to read when you’ve gone through loss. I loved On Death & Dying and I’ve also read The Tunnel & the Light. How to Deal with Grief by Karen Colquhoun is a good read too. What I have found difficult is that people who havent gone through something big don’t understand.
June 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm
Jacquie, everyone thinks they know what grief is, though they haven’t a clue what it’s about unless, as you say, they’ve gone through it themselves. That’s why I wrote Grief: The Great Yearning — I wanted people to know what it was like.