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Friday, February 24, 2017

Grief doesn't care what is proper, part 1

I wrote a bit about this subject in a previous blog called Letting go and letting God - The timing and art of letting go. I had touched upon many aspects of loss and grief including what is socially acceptable grief.  So, I'm not going to visit it here too much except to expand upon that point.

I believe society seems to have certain expectations for grief.
  • What grief is suppose to look like.  That is the form it is suppose to take.
  • What is an appropriate amount of time to grieve
  • The people you are or are not expected to grieve for.
  • Whom you are allowed to grieve for.
  • Whom you are not allowed to grieve for.
When we break or don't follow those expectations, we can risk rejection, scorn or worse.  But, I've discovered over time that grief is a strange beast.  It will follow its own rules and will ultimately bow to no one.  Now, we can sometimes be shamed into how and when we show it or don't show it, but ultimately that is just window dressing the hide what our soul feels.

Let me break down what I see as aspects of grief.  I will touch on society's expectations for grief (and in some cases how we deviate from it)


  • Grief's appearance or form.
    • What many have been taught that grief is suppose to look like.
      • Deep sadness
      • Crying
      • Serious demeanor.
    • What it can look like.
      • Relief 
        • Suffering has ended for someone who had been long suffering.
        • That we are no longer required to watch helplessly while they suffer.
        • Our fear of being hurt by them is finally over.
      • Anger at others 
        • People let the one we are grieving down.  That people weren't there for our loved one in time of his/her need.
        • Higher Power seems to have let us down by allowing our loved one to pass for seemingly no good reason.
      • Anger - If they have left behind a messy circumstance for us to clean up or deal with or they didn't take care of themselves 
        • That they were careless or reckless in their lifestyle.
        • That they recklessly did not account for their own needs.  Not preparing for an eventuality. 
        • That they neglected those whom they left behind.
          • Didn't make proper preparations for dependents/survivor needs.
          • They were more focused on their own reckless behavior than emotional and financial needs of those left behind.
      • Humor 
        • Laughter - That may seems inappropriate, but is really our way of coping with a circumstance that is so intense.
        • Sarcasm - If the person we are 'mourning' for has mistreated us for a long time, it may be hard to feel much besides it. 
      • Emptiness/Numbness
        • Loss is too profound to accept or to have sink in.
        • We are focused on survival after the loss.
  • Timetable of grief
    • Immediate timetable
      • We are supposed to have it all packaged and delivered in a week or less in some cases and be back to work.  That is make arrangements, pull together a funeral and move as if nothing I had to do this with each parent.  Arranged/buried and back to work.
      • In some cases, we are allowed more time, but we still have to pull it together in a few months at best and be productive.
      • Family and friends allow us to be sad or upset.  If it is a child, we are given more time to openly and painfully weep/mourn.
      • This is the time when those around us will offer to help the most as it is fresh in everyone's mind.
    • The near term past immediacy.
      • In most cases, we are supposed to have put the lost behind us and have moved on in our daily lives and be productive.
      • Many/most people will start to shut off listening to or wanting to hear about our grief. 
        • They don't know what to say, especially if they haven't been hit by it.
        • They have their own stresses as well.
        • Usually, they will be polite about it and 'listen' anyway.
      • Counseling is accepted in this term.
    • Longer term (year or two)
      • Willingness to listen to our grief becomes rarer and rarer, especially from those who aren't close to us, but even with those who are close to us.  Losing a child is a situation which we are probably allowed more leeway on being listened to.
      • Counseling is accepted in this term, but we are expected to be well on our way to coming to terms with the loss.
      • Our daily lives are not expected to be impacted, no matter how we may feel on a given date about our loss.  Anniversary of a death is a big deal to us, but to our employer for example, they don't expect any impact.
    • Long-term (years)
      • We are expected to have adjusted, coped, or have come to terms.
      • Most people have tuned out our grief by this point and may even tell you that it's time to move on.  They may 'humor' it if they aren't burnt out on it if it is the loss of a close family member.
This is a heavy read, so I will continue this blog post in another part to be published.  But for today, I will leave with this thought, if we try to deny grief its proper role in our lives, I believe grief will punish us in another form, often in an addictive form such as alcoholism. Until later (probably tomorrow)...

See: Grief doesn't care what is proper, part 2

The original recorded version of this song.