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