The Topic of Grief

As I sat on the beach this morning, taking time to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise, the song “Do I Ever Crossed Your Mind” by Ray Charles came on my ipod.

For some reason, it started me thinking of some recent articles and discussion I have read questioning the need and validity for blogs and books on grief and for the “public” sharing of such a private thing as grief. I started thinking of all the valid reasons for the many varied writing platforms speaking on the topic of grief. Here are a few I came up with:

  1. To remember – So many times, after the initial support following the death of a loved one, it seems like everyone else goes on with their lives. It’s easy to feel that our loved one has been forgotten. For me, as a bereaved parent, it somehow feels like it’s my responsibility to make sure Jason and the life he lived isn’t forgotten. Our loved ones should not be forgotten! Their lives mattered! None of us want our loved ones to be forgotten.
  2. To honor – We want to honor our loved ones by telling stories of their lives; by recounting how much they meant to us and – as a result of how much we loved them – how much we miss their presence; and by speaking of our love for them.
  3. To give a voice to the bereaved – When it seems that the bereaved are brushed aside, expected to grieve privately, and feel they can’t speak of their sorrow as they need or wish to, a written outlet gives voice to the bereaved.
  4. To promote understanding – Unless we, the bereaved, talk about our experiences, no one can even have an iota of understanding of what it’s like to walk in our shoes. True, no one can truly know what it’s like to walk in the shoes of the bereaved (not even a fellow griever who suffered a similar loss), because each griever and grief is unique. But by speaking of our experiences as members of the “club no one wants to join,” we can promote an atmosphere of understanding for those who grieve and those surrounding them.
  5. To promote tolerance – This goes hand-in-hand with understanding. It sometimes seems that there is a lack of tolerance for those who deeply grieve, an impatience for the griever to “get over it and move on.” By promoting a tolerant attitude for grief and the path someone who grieves deeply must walk, perhaps the bereaved will be allowed to grieve in a healthy manner (as opposed to stuffing it down) and integrate the loss into their lives in a healthy way. It’s a long and difficult journey. Support, understanding, and tolerance make the journey a little easier to walk and the burden a little easier to bear. It makes a difference!
  6. To shine a spotlight on the need for continued (from the initial loss) and ongoing support for the bereaved – Perhaps the song “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” triggered thoughts for me on this subject because we, as an entire family, felt so deserted and forgotten after Jason died. I truly wondered if thoughts of us ever crossed anyone’s mind. The walk of grief, particularly for a bereaved parent, is a long and difficult one. Friends disappear. Support vanishes. Kindness and support matter!
  7. To reach out to others who deeply grieve – There can be an empathetic understanding between two people who have suffered a similar loss that a person who has not experienced a deep grief can’t fully understand. I no longer avoid those who grieve deeply. My heart responds with compassion when I read about someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. I take time to think of them, to pray for them, to try to think of some way to encourage. When (sometimes) there is no present support in the physical realm, reaching out through an electronic medium can fill a need for support.

I’m sure there are many more reasons – as many reasons as those who write concerning their loss.  I, for one, am glad that there are such things as books and blogs on grief. In the months after Jason died, I read as many books as I could find to try to gain some insight and understanding of what I was going through. They helped. I have continued to read books on grief. The bereaved have a voice that should not be silenced by those who are uncomfortable around grief.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

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17 thoughts on “The Topic of Grief

      • I think it’s interesting that, in their book I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye, Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair say the following:

        “…Emily Post in 1927 reported that a widow’s formal mourning period was three years. Twenty-three years later, this period had declined to three months. And by 1972, Amy Vanderbilt advised the bereaved to “pursue, or try to pursue, a usual social course within a week or so after a funeral.” We impose time limits and expectations for how long one must suffer. While over 90 percent of American companies grant official time off for bereavement, most have established three days as formal bereavement period.”

        See also Slate article “How to Help Friends in Mourning”: http://www.slate.com/id/2300735/pagenum/all/#p2

  1. Thank you. I feel less alone because of this post 🙂 It is crazy how today’s mentality is to ignore, stuff, or squash any and all negative emotions – why are people so uncomfortable with pain – both in others and in themselves? Although, I used to be one of those people (still am more often than I would like to be) Since life is so fast paced these days, maybe we don’t have time to deal with such things which is a tragedy in itself ;(

  2. Thank you so much, it was so good to read your blog. I am new to this but I believe that by sharing our lives, we can become more open and empathetic to others. I have walked the path of grief and felt “forgotten” by others. Grief may be private but it is only in our sterile North American culture that we shy away from overt displays of sadness, loss etc. In some religous faiths it is set down how a family is to behave after the death of a loved one and when they are free to move on. People see this as restrictive but as I walked my own journey of grief I saw that it was in many ways a coaching and support during the worst time of grieving, the first year…first Christmas, first birthday, first holiday…those are difficult. In the Eastern Orthodox faith memorial dinners are to be held periodically throughout the first year. At first I saw them as annoying rituals until I realized that they were an opportunity to continue to gather friends and family for support and remember, talk about and weep over our lost loved one. Alas, I have blathered on enough…thank you again.

  3. Excellent. I found your blog through my husband (the common loon). I’m so sorry for the loss of your beautiful son Jason. I’m going through your recommended reading list – there’s a few in there that I haven’t read and I’m going to request them from the library, thanks!

    • Thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comments. I will be adding more to the recommended reading list soon. I have been absorbed in prepping for a series of tests in order to take the national paralegal certification test this month, so haven’t gotten around to it yet. You may want to check back later.

  4. Pingback: A Few Things I’ve Learned in the 10 Years Since Jason Died | Grief: One Woman's Perspective

  5. Pingback: Why I’m thankful that the cyberworld is at my fingertips | Grief: One Woman's Perspective

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