I know you may look at someone you know in mourning and wonder when they’ll snap out of it.I understand because I use to think that way too.Okay, maybe at the time I was self-aware enough or guilty enough not to think it quite that explicitly, even in my own head. It might have come in the form of a growing impatience toward someone in mourning or a gradual dismissing of their sadness over time or maybe in my intentionally avoiding them as the days passed. It was subtle to be sure, but I can distinctly remember reaching the place where my compassion for grieving friends had reached its capacity—and it was long before they stopped hurting.
Let me share below a few of the expectations and realities that surround grief for those who are open to listening. None of my concepts fit into societies grief box and despite the resounding amount of mutual support by the grieving for what I write below, many will discount my words and label us as “stuck” or “in need of good therapy.” I’m here to say those who are honest with the emotions that surround loss are the ones who are the least “stuck” and have received the best therapy around. You see, getting in touch with our true feelings, embracing the honest emotions of death only serve to expand the heart and allow us to move forward in a genuine and honest way. Death happens to us all so let’s turn the corner and embrace the truth behind life after loss.
“It’s not about saying the right things. It’s about doing the right things.” ~UnknownYears ago, my family and I moved to a bucolic little town in New Zealand, where we were immediately swept up into a group of ex-pats and locals. We felt deeply connected to this community by the time I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in the local hospital.When our son was three months old, a doctor heard a heart murmur. Twenty-four hours later, he died.In the days and weeks that followed, I wandered in my own fog of grief as I went about the necessary tasks of ordinary life: shopping for food, taking our other kids to school, doing the usual mounds of laundry.Meanwhile, my new friends kept their distance. I saw them take great care to avoid me: to cross the street, switch supermarket aisles, literally do an about-face when they saw me coming.Invitations stopped coming. The phone went silent. My grief was marked by a deeper isolation than I’d ever known.Later, many of these people apologized. They told me they were terribly sad and distressed about what had happened, but hadn’t known what to s