The last several weeks have been very hard. They have, in fact, been terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Many days I wondered if it was still possible to make it out "un-jaded". At this point in my "journey", I find that the ignorance of society concerning grief and the bereaved seems almost equally as traumatic as standing over my husbands' dead body. What I mean by that bold statement is this, It is one thing to grieve a loving husband and father and the life we had together, etc. It is entirely another to cope with a society that tries to show love and care but without the proper knowledge and appropriate expectations concerning grief and the bereaved.
I have come to believe that society as a whole does not see it necessary to learn about grief or how to care for the bereaved, but rather tends to assume that their good intentions are sufficient. That at some point, the bereaved will buck up and rejoin society, get back on board, get back to living like everyone else, like nothing ever happened. But grief changes people. It changes everything.
People always worry about what to say and what not to say... Some of you may feel defensive reading this blog post. There is no shame here!! You've done nothing wrong! I have never cared whether someone knew what to say or how to say it, did or didn't do something, called too often or too little... Caring for the bereaved has very little to do with what should or shouldn't be said, etc. It is much more about how you understand what a person's going through, know how to come alongside, have appropriate understanding and expectations based on accurate knowledge of all that is taking place psychologically, socially, physically, and spiritually...
Here are some truths or lessons I am learning... (mostly about widowhood)
I feel very wounded by the "well-meaning" society that has embraced me and cared for me these many months. It is not and has never been a person or individual, but it is the society as a whole, the culture we've created that contributes to the myths about grief that causes so much grief to the bereaved... Why does death shock us when everything dies? Why do we struggle to acknowledge loss, whether tangible or intangible, when it is embedded in the very fabric of our human existence, as pervasive as the rising and setting of the sun...? Everything that lives, dies. Everything that begins, ends. To everything there is a season. A time to laugh and a time to mourn. This is the human existence. So why does the white North American eradicate death or loss from its paradigm of life? Why do we go to our doctors, take pills upon pills, read self-help books, gain, gain, gain... But refuse to acknowledge that in every gain is embedded a loss... And why is it impossible to grieve in church? Why are pretences still a necessary component to church culture? Why do people think grief is just being sad about something, completely ignorant to the vast multi-dimensional shifts taking place inside the persons world? Why do Christians still think that grieving equals loss of faith?
Why does death have to be so devastating when it happens every day? Of course it's devastating when it is someone we love, but there is something more going on. There is a total inability to cope with death that our brilliant, medicated culture seems to create...
I am tired. I am tired of trying to grieve in a non-grief culture. I don't want to bring back the black anymore. I just want the freedom to do what I need to do, to grieve how I need to grieve, and to discover in my own time and in my own ways what it means to live again, a new life, a life after death... A life without my husband. Oh, how I miss him.
Many thoughts and questions in this post are better unpacked in How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies, by Therese A. Rando, Ph. D, 1988.