It is acceptable to be silent about grief in order to avoid hurtful comments from others. However, what if you tried to educate people by standing by your grief? Let them know that grief with all its twists and turns, is a normal response to death. Grief is not complicated or prolonged. It just is. It is time we started acknowledging grief rather than denying it. If you are more comfortable in silence, be reassured that it’s okay to stand up for your own grief in private moments. You have the right to griev3er in your own time, in your own way.
“As a culture, we seem to have an intolerance for suffering…by minimizing the impact of significant losses, pathologizing those whose reactions are intense, and applauding those who seem relatively unaffected by tragic events, we encourage the inhibition of our own grief.” -- H. NORMAN WRIGHT
I embrace authenticity of emotion. I do not consider stoicism a virtue. When my husband was dying, I was as glad he could cry with me as I was that he could laugh with me. Grief is not something to be stuffed down or hidden. It is especially dangerous when people want to pathologize grief. I applaud those who have the courage to remove their masks and those who are willing to honor and share the genuine process and expression of grief.
“The natural response…because it is uncomfortable to them to hear the grieving person crying, is to get the person to stop crying and cheer them up. That is really the wrong approach…It is important that the person be allowed to griever so the healing process can begin." – KEVIN M GARDNER
I learned in a workshop that when someone was crying, not to offer them a tissue or try to comfort them, but rather to sit quietly and witness their tears. Unhappiness often make other people uncomfortable, and they react by trying to cheer up the person suffering. Instead of bringing cheer, the comments cause hurt, irritation, and confusion. Grief is an honorable emotion reflecting love, and before healing can start, it must be heard and respected.
“Today, in our ‘shut up, get over it and move on’ mentality, our society misses so much, it’s no wonder we are a generation that longs to tell our stories.” -- ELIZABETH KÜBLER-ROSS
When we are forbidden by societal norms from telling our honest story, we miss so much. Instead of walking through life arm in arm with shared emotional experience, we feel isolated and alienated. We can shut up or we can speak up. Which choice will make us feel truly alive?
“Rather than running from grief’s harsh reality, you may find that letting it groan and pierce and ache and cry, you begin to exhaust some of its staying power. You expose its secret hiding places. You force it into the open air where it can be more easily outlined and dealt with.” -- FRANK PAGE
I find groaning, crying, tantrums, and an occasional wallow in grief helpful, but I try to keep this within the privacy of my own home. If I can let out my grief in whatever way I want, it feels cleansing. I have released energy to do other things. I can’t deal with what I hide even from myself.
“When you lost a family member back when you were supposed to be in full mourning, dress in nothing but black…Then you went into something they called ‘half mourning’ for another full year…Now? A month after a tragedy, maybe two, and you’re expected to be all better, or down pills so you can present you are.” -- MERCEDES LACKEY
In most modern cultures, there is no longer an acceptable outward expression of mourning. There is no way for someone to look at us and know how deep our grief is. It may seem that our only choice is to smooth over the cracks in our sense of self by false remedies or even harmful medication. I want to change this expectation. I want everyone to understand that a grieving person is supposed to grieve.
“When asked, ‘Why do you always wear black’ he said, ‘I’m mourning for my life.’” -- ANTON CHEKHOV
We may not wear black opening, but many of us carry our hearts, minds, and souls draped in black. We are in mourning for a life that continues on after those we love have died. We are mourning for the life we wanted that is no longer possible. We learn to understand that we can be in mourning for our life at the same time we learn to celebrate it. We don’t have to let go to move on.
“Just walk fearlessly into the house of mourning for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy. And after all these mortal human years, love I up to the challenge.” - CATHERINE BURNS
Where do we find the courage to grieve, especially openly? In love. Love moves us from thinking of grief as a curse to considering the idea the idea that grief can be a blessing. As sad and broken as we are, I do believe that love is up to the challenge. In the middle of the worst horror, love can find a way through, if we let it.