Grief, a normal part of life and death is viewed as a taboo subject. Grief, and any discussion on the subject, is limited to those who counsel or those who are living through it. Yet, it is as much a part of life as joy and happiness. Not one living person will go through life without grieving at some time over some thing.
We begin being unprepared to deal with grief from when we are children. Mainly because the adults around us have never been taught how to acknowledge and grieve themselves. I wish I had been more prepared to help my children when Joe died. I think I did ok though. My parents were old school, so it was the “don’t feel bad” response to my tears. Thank god, I have always been a bit of a bitch, so the “don’t tell me how to feel” statement was in frequent use. With my 4 children, only two were of an age at the time, four and six years old, where they needed to understand the finality of daddy being gone at that time. Feeling lost to support them in their grief, I did seek out a children’s grief counselor, immediately. He was wonderful, for me as the parent and for Joseph and Laurie Ellen. I believe all four of my children have grown to be listening adults when it comes to grief. I have witnessed, first hand, how they support their friends. I can only attribute their understanding and support to having lived through their loss and watched their mom without any.
How can we make grief a coffee table subject? How can we raise the awareness that none of us are spared the emotions of sad, lost and heart broken? How can we shout out our feelings of grief? I hope that, as you move through your grief, you don’t mince words on the subject. It is not “time heals all wounds”. Words and expressing your feelings help the healing and yes, it does take time.
What if the next time you’re asked how you are, you are honest! Difficult right? Do you shudder at the thought of actually saying to someone (other than another widow) that you feel awful, crushed, that your heart is broken in two? The shock of hearing your response may a person to pause. They may even come back with an appropriate, “I can’t imagine what that feels like”. Take the risk; tell them how you really feel.
We need to give grief a voice. I was speaking with a woman in the corporate arena about grief at work. She had experienced, over the past two years, the loss of three co-workers. There was no discussion on how to grieve the loss at work! No one addressed the fellow employees sadness or shock. Not a lunchtime subject at the office. And yet, two years later, she is still feeling the emptiness of their absence.
It’s often times almost comical when I, which I do, bring up the subject of grief in conversation. I have to admit that I love the reactions I receive, from a complete ignoring of my statements, a quick change in topics or the usual response of “ you do such good work”. Ha, seems grief is my responsibility! It would be so hopeful to hear a response of “how will I, when I have a loss, deal with my grief”? How sad that they don’t see that one-day, ill prepared, they too will grieve a loss.