What Everyone Should Know About Grief – Part 9

I recently read that Nietzsche said people tended to exaggerate their traumas. I don’t know whether Nietzsche actually said it since I couldn’t find such a quote from him, but I do think the sentiment is true, at least to a certain extent.

It’s this tendency to exaggerate our traumas that leads others to downplay the role that grief plays in our lives. If we tell the truth, they assume exaggeration, and so they shrug off as hyperbole what is very real to us. Since most people have experienced some sort of grief in their lives, they assume they know what grief is. If we try to explain what we are feeling when we lose someone intrinsic to our lives, someone to whom we are profoundly connected, it doesn’t match with what they feel, so they think we are over dramatizing ourselves.

It’s not surprising people can’t imagine what we feel. Most of us who lost our mates couldn’t believe what was happening to us — couldn’t even imagine it though we were living it. Because of this all-consuming feeling, there is no way we could ever have imagined grief exaggerated beyond what we experienced.

The truth is, there is no way to exaggerate profound grief. Profound grief is exaggeration — an immense magnification of emotion. An amplification of loss. An excess of pain. A trauma that affects every part of us and our lives. A process that changes us and our relation to ourselves and all that surrounds us.

This blog post itself seems an exaggeration, especially in the bright sun of this day so many years after Jeff died, and yet, I know the truth.

My message is as it always is — if you are experiencing what seems to be an insane level of grief, it is normal. Horrendously painful, but normal. Know that one day, you will find peace.

If you haven’t experienced such grief, be kind to those who are dealing with a profound loss. If you think someone is exaggerating grief years after the death of a child or soul mate, give them the benefit of their own truth. Don’t dismiss their feelings or downplay their grief as self-dramatization. I’m sure they wish that’s all it was — a bit of melodrama — but be assured they still feel the loss in every cell of their being.

Wishing you all a peaceful — and kinder — day.


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.

2 Responses to “What Everyone Should Know About Grief – Part 9”

  1. Vartan Agnerian Says:

    After 44 years of a contented marriage’ as a widow of four months’ my grief is still profound’ the immense missing of my loving husband’ my other half is no exaggeration ‘ the days being meaningless, the lack of enthusiasm’ the lack of drive’ the lack of interest in calling and chatting with family or friends’ not feeling any excitement to go shopping is no melodrama’
    This is my reality at present’ I am a different person now’ I’m not who I was then’ with my husband by my side’ as you point out accurately – I so feel his loss in every cell of my being – and as one blog writer expressed’ there’s no expiration date on grief’ it just gets tolerable ‘


    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I don’t know if you found this, but here all all my grief blogs in order from the beginning to today: https://bertramsblog.com/archives-grief-posts/

      The days for me remained meaningless for a long time, though I did try to find meaning in small things. I was also concerned not to waste the freedom his death gave me (it kept me from being tied to his illness for the rest of my life), I made sure to do things and go on small adventures to prove I was still alive. Those things eventually added up to a meaning of sorts, or at least a habit of looking beyond my loneliness and sorrow to something else.

      However one approaches this time, it feels like a step forward and two back.

      Feeling the loss in every cell is what makes the death of a life mate so different from other losses. It’s such an . . . amputation.

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