The Ironies of Grief

I’ve been working on my new book about grief, and I noticed how often I used the word “irony.” No wonder. Grief seems to be fraught with ironies.

It is devastatingly ironic that the one person we need to turn to help us with our grief is the very person who is gone.

It is ironic that it is we bereft who have to be understanding of and make allowances for the thoughtless things people say to us.

It is ironic that when we most need people, they make themselves scarce, as if grief is a terrible and terribly contagious disease.

It is ironic that while grief is not a disease, it is a dis-ease.

It is ironic that when we are at our weakest, as we are after a grievous loss, we have to be our strongest.

It is ironic that grief, which seems to be something that needs to be healed, is actually the way we heal from the traumatic assault perpetrated by the grim reaper.

It is ironic that we’re supposed to believe life is worth living at the very same time we’re supposed to believe the dead are in a better place.

It is ironic that while we are dealing with the most profoundly painful time of our lives, we have the most mundane tasks to complete.

Some of these might not be strictly ironies, but I’m padding the list.

Can you think of any more ironies of grief? I’d like to do a chapter for the book on irony, but what I have here wouldn’t make much of a chapter. Normally, I’d fill out a chapter with explanations of my various points, but there’s really no need to explain any of these ironies because the irony is evident.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “The Ironies of Grief”

  1. Terry Jean Allard Says:

    Maybe the chapter is “Self-pity to/or/and Self Compassion”.
    It is ironic that at a time when we most need validation for self compassion we are accused of self-pity and have our feelings invalidated as narristic.

    I have recently read The Fearless Heart by Thupten Jinpa PhD. The book in part contrasts self-pity and self-compassion. It might give you some ideas for giving this chapter a little more “meat”.

    I like your list of ironies…so true…I love being validated!!!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Validation is a big reason I’m writing this book. It seems that the experts, our acquaintances, even our friends see our grief as “wrong.” They don’t understand that it isn’t about self-pity but about processing all that happened to us, and becoming the people we need to be to survive and even thrive in this new alien world we’ve been thrust into.

      • Terry Jean Allard Says:

        Soooo…..maybe a way to go beyond validating your reader is to explain the difference between self-pity and and the “processing” and “becoming” (part of which is self-compassion) by giving them the “words” they need to explain it to others or in some cases fightback.
        A question for you “Why would your book be an important one to include in the curriculum for anyone training to be a counselor?”

        All of the above said with great respect for your formidable task. I just think you audience could be more than us card caring members.

  2. Terry Jean Allard Says:

    I think that may have been a “Dahhh…Terry” of course it is!!!

  3. Terry Jean Allard Says:

    Reflecting on my comment from yesterday…so sorry I wasn’t more’s another try. I think your book will have so much to offer people who do grief counseling. I hesitated to go to a grief group because I feared being victimized by a leader who couldn’t go “off script”. I felt so vulernable especially to anyone who thought they knew answers for me and had an agenda to deliver. If I wasn’t any “better” by week 12 would the leader (and worse) a group push me in someway…make me feel even worse. I never went. I know you did. So my question is “Do you think counselors are getting this much needed information?”

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I don’t know any grief counselors, so I can’t answer your question. I did go to support groups that had facilitators — people who just ran the group. The first facilitator told me I was trying to get through grief too fast, that it would take me a couple of years. The second facilitator worked from a set of “lessons” that mostly were used to focus the group on a particular topic, but generally, we just talked about our grief, which helped. The third facilitator was fine until he went to a grief seminar, and then he tried to fit everyone’s feelings into the five stages, which, as I’m sure you know, bear absolutely no resemblance to what we are going through. Because I fought him on the five stages thing, I got kicked out of the group. That’s all I know.

  4. Terry Jean Allard Says:

    Good for you for standing up to the third facilitator! I haven’t forgotten the signs blog and will get it to you this weekend.

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: