Grief is a natural reaction when we suffer the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately our society has no idea on how to handle grief and how to treat someone who has just suffered the loss of a great love.
For starters when someone dies we say passed, transitioned or whatever else comes to mind. When my father died I had an older relative (bless her soul) reprimand me for saying my father died. What is wrong with the word dead? Last time I checked that’s what he was dead. But for some death forces us to think about our own mortality, our own failures in life and that’s just too much to handle. So instead we fluff our words, walk on eggshells and avoid saying trigger words.
Something happens when someone you love dies. If you are like me and you are forced to watch your real life super hero suffer it changes you. You feel helpless as you watch someone you love slowly fade away. When your person dies so does a piece of you. You are left with a tremendous hole in your heart. Your soul weeps and no matter what you do there is no way to comfort it.
As you begin to walk your grief journey well meaning friends repeat the myths they have heard or the lies that were told to them when they suffered a loss. They know no other way because our society knows no other way. Society wants us to get over it and move on, and if we can’t get over it they want us to put on a pretty grief mask when we are out in public. Grief is the elephant in the room wearing a pink tutu that no one wants to acknowledge. But the truth is where there is great love there is great grief that lasts a lifetime and us grievers desperately want to acknowledge it.
Below are some of the lies we encounter throughout our grief journey:
- You must stop living in the past and move on
This is something we love to tell our widowed community. As a grieving daughter I cringe when I hear people tell my newly widowed mother to “move on.” People who tell someone grieving to move on do not know loss. They say ignorance is bliss and in this situation it sure is. It’s easy to tell a heart broken widow to move on when you’re going home to your significant other. Think about the irony of that and how hurtful it is. Instead of telling Peggy to move on try saying, “I have no idea how you’re feeling but I’m here for you.”
Remembering our loved ones keeps their presence with us and is a way of honoring them and a way of honoring our feelings. It keeps the love alive.
2. You need to get over it
No one has the right to tell you how you feel. There is no time stamp on grief. There is no normal way to grieve. Our grief is as unique as a snowflake. You do not have to get over it.
3. You really shouldn’t talk about him or her so much
As long as I have breath in me I will be my father’s living breathing legacy. I write to keep my father’s memory alive. The only people who cannot bear to hear you speak of your beloved are those who are unable to accept their own mortality. What better way to honor a beautiful life than to extend all the love we can no longer give our loved ones to others? Talking about our loved ones creates legacy for our loved ones in a world that would rather bury its emotions and move on.
These are just some of the myths that we are told while grieving a great loss. The truth is no one can understand what you lost. No one can understand the searing pain you are feeling in your heart. No one can understand that there are times you want to die as well; no not because you are suicidal but because you yearn to hear your loved ones voice one more time, to hug them one more time or to tell them you love them one last time. Death is final, grief lasts a lifetime.
It is true, where there is great love there is great grief. And what a privilege it is to love that deeply.
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