Shedding Light on the Dim World of Grief

I happened upon an internet discussion yesterday where people were commenting about those who post bereavement, death, and grief comments on the various social sites. As you can imagine, this got my ire up.

It seems that it’s okay to rant about politics, gossip about celebrities, talk about diet, brag about one’s feeble accomplishments, restyle one’s life so that it seems admirable and exciting rather than as mediocre as everyone else’s, and of course, post copious photos of pets as well as posts about the illnesses and deaths of those animals. But apparently, it’s not okay to mention something as important as grief for a fellow human being.

I realize people would just as soon forget that their lives have an expiration date, would just as soon forget that a person cannot be happy all the time, would just as soon forget that bad things happen to everyone at one time or another, but still, the major problem with grief is that so few people want to even acknowledge that death and grief and ongoing feelings of loss do exist.

If you’re one of those, then if someone posts about death or grief, scroll on by. You’re not obligated to acknowledge someone else’s pain, though perhaps it would be the kind thing to do.

Some people in the discussion thought that those who posted updates about grief were simply looking for sympathy. I suppose it’s possible some grievers do so, but no one of my acquaintance has ever mentioned their grief in a bid for pity. If we are looking for anything, we’re looking for validation of our feelings, looking for an acknowledgment that life after the death of a loved one does not and cannot continue as before, looking for someone to stop and pay attention.

Some people, perhaps, are looking for a sign from their deceased loved one, which, if there is life after death, would be feasible since we, like computers, are an electronic medium.

Mostly, though, if the social sites are about laying out our lives for others to see, then to refrain from mentioning death or grief would be a disservice not just to ourselves and our deceased loved ones, but to the world at large.

The truth is, you cannot pretend such things do not exist, at least not forever. One way or another, you will confront death, if not a loved one’s, then your own. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that after you were gone, people would still remember you with an occasional post online? Or would you expect people to wipe you out of their lives and thoughts?

I’ve come to realize that some people have little sympathy for those who acknowledge their losses because they think when someone dies, that person is not just erased from this world, but is erased retroactively, so that the deceased never existed, never left behind a hole in the fabric of life on Earth. Because of this retroactive erasure, those unsympathetic people tend to think that anyone who still misses their loved one years later is buying into a victim mentality, perhaps is even addicted to grief.

Whenever I think I’ve said all there is to say about grief, I discover a new black hole of ignorance and insensitivity, so apparently, my mission of shedding light on the dim world of grief, is far from over.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

7 Responses to “Shedding Light on the Dim World of Grief”

  1. Helen Says:

    Exactly ! Your words here are like a breath of fresh air. In my experience no one wants to talk about death, grief, our loved ones who have gone. Please continue with your mission.Thank you.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    40 years ago If someone asked me about depression, or deuil (mourning) and grief with my maturity have said stupidly and bluntly how much cost one kilo depression or grief ?.
    With my experience with depression for a long period and immediately with grief now I can understand and I have all my compassion for the person with depression and grief and try to understand.
    In my personal experience depression attacks your brain and your mind very strongly not really your heart but grief attacks your brain, mind, and your heart. (medically effects of brain, mind, heart works together)
    For me like lot of psychologists says go forward or mouvement on.
    It is logical not practical In my opinion !
    My wife’s existence is not a fact I am living with every day.
    For a mother it might be more hurtful to live her child departure than me with my wife’s departure. I am sorry I can’t compare grief.
    My mother was very much stronger, more educated, more cultivated person than me.
    When she lost her husband and her daughter of 28 years in few years and never recovered.
    35 years ago I never understood her grief now I can.
    I have already said of Pat
    Pat you helped me understand grief to cope with and specially to understand other people’s grief and to respect.
    Your mission is noble to continue for the grief people’s need and far from over.

  3. Royann Behrmann Says:

    I enjoyed your comment today. I know that I remember both Mom and Dad and I believe I will be reunited with them. That being said, I agree that it is difficult to have something (grief) that is so much a part of you, either ignored or discounted. Do I think people should erase there grief? No. Everyone is different. I keep mine tightly in my grasp so no one can demean or dispute my feeling. I understand the rawness of grief. There (to me) seem to be varients based on many circumstances. Perhaps we just need to realize that everyone is or will be suffering beyond our comprehension.

  4. Estragon Says:

    Just over a year later, and still very much missing her. I don’t think I have a victim mentality or grief addiction, but I can see how it could happen. On top of the loss, there’s also the Bob causing all sorts of mischief with what would otherwise be a return to something maybe loosely resembling normal.

    Mostly, I avoid the subject. Nothing anyone says makes anything better – more often than not it just brings it all back.

    Some people seem to feel strongly that widow/ers should “move on” after some “appropriate” time (both terms as defined by them), while others seem to feel just as strongly that we should sit quietly by ourselves in a dark room for the rest of our lives. I dismiss the advice entirely from anyone who hasn’t walked a mile in my shoes. The people who try to actively enforce their advice (by cutting off contact with surviving parent, gossip, public shaming, etc.) just p*ss me off.

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