Outside the Pale

I’ve opened my computer several times previously today so that I could write a blog post, but each time, I’ve played a few games of solitaire and then closed the computer.

Almost anything I want to say about the situation in the world today would put me even further beyond the pale than I already am. Many of my blog readers seem to appreciate my struggles to understand the truth in light of two very different narratives being told today, but other people . . . not so much. They believe what they want to believe, and call everything that doesn’t fit in that belief system lies. Or fake news. Or however else the current lexicon defines an opposing viewpoint they consider invalid.

I did find it interesting that the tarot card I picked today said I was an intelligent and complex woman, a truthseeker, open to hearing the thoughts and opinions of others but able to filter through all the rhetoric to see what is true. It’s how I like to see myself; how I hope I really am.

Which brings me to another point — a pointed stick, in fact.

I looked up the origin of “beyond the pale,” and the “pale” (aka “pole”) was a pointed stick (or a lot of pointed sticks) indicating a boundary. This phrase has been around since the twelfth century. Apparently, when the Normans invaded Ireland, they built a palisade around Dublin to protect themselves from the barbarians who lived beyond that pale.

Considering that I have built my own “pales,” both the fence around my house and the small area I have staked for my own on the internet (this blog, of course), perhaps it is others who are beyond the pale — my pale, anyway — while I am solidly within my own pale.

We all create our pales, I suppose, beyond which lie dragons (and barbarians). The problems come not when people stray further beyond some ideolgical pale, but when they physically force themselves into someone else’s pale.

Ah, see what I did? In a roundabout way, I ended up talking about that which I didn’t want to talk about, but it really is hard not to stray into that particular pale when it is so much on my mind.

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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

Fake News and Grief

I’ve been spending time on Quora in an effort to become known on yet another networking site. Quora is a question and answer site with a news feed similar to Facebook, but what appears on the feed are questions. It’s kind of a fun thing, and even makes me think. When I saw the question, “What do fake news and losing a loved one have in common?” I just passed it by. I mean, they don’t have anything in common, right? And yet, as I got to thinking about it, I realized that in both cases, people believe a lot of things that are not true, and they act on those false beliefs, creating heartache.

The complex and painful experience of grief for a life mate or child is not something we see on television shows, in movies, or read about in novels. Through thousands of movies and books, we are taught to be stoic, to hold back our tears, to be cool. Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven was the epitome of western cool, gliding across the film’s landscape without a single show of emotion.

Fictional folks shed a fictional tear or two, perhaps go on a fictional spree of vengeance, then continue with their fictional lives unchanged.

Because of this cultural conditioning (and because we quickly learn to hide our grief from view), people believe that grieving is a much faster process than it actually is, so just a few weeks after the funeral, the phone stops ringing, people we encounter no longer mention our loved one, and our family and friends start urging us to move on.

This can be disheartening, especially since this is when the awful realization starts to sink in that our loved one really is gone. Those closest to us go home to their husbands and wives and unchanged lives. We go into our sad and empty rooms, apartments, houses to be faced again—and again and again—with the knowledge that who we loved was gone, what we had was gone, what we needed was gone, what we hoped for was gone. All gone.

And we’re supposed to be okay with that.

I had lunch one day with some women friends, and one woman’s husband was off on a trip. The woman went on and on about how much she missed him, and the women were all sympathetic toward her. Yet when I mentioned that I missed my deceased life mate, there was a long moment of silence, and then one of the women told me I had to get over it and move on with my life.

She wasn’t an unsympathetic friend. She just based her advice on the “fake news” that it’s best to forget the dead and concentrate on living.
With news, it’s always good to check your sources and not assume what you hear (and believe) is is true. With grief, it’s always good to check your source (the griever herself) and not assume that what you have heard (and believe) is true.

Becoming a person who can live forever while missing that one special person takes a long time — years, even. Becoming a person who can live happily while missing that person takes even longer. But always, you miss them.

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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.