Right behind this wave of grief comes another wave - a wave of embarrassment and shame. What do we often say when this happens in front of someone else? "I'm sorry." We place intense pressure on ourselves to keep our feelings inside and to manage the grieving process in a neat, tidy, orderly and proper manner. It's easy to see where this pressure comes from; just look at what happens when we suffer a loss. Most employers provide their employees with a mere 3 days of bereavement leave after the loss of an immediate relative. 3 days. 3 days? 3 days!! After those 3 days the message begins to creep in from a number of areas that it's time to pull yourself together, stop crying and move on. Guess what? That message is wrong.
Grief doesn't go away. The wave doesn't crest, crash on the shore and disappear. It stays with us. Forever. The hole in our heart never goes away. It never heals. There is no closure. Grief is forever. When we lose someone, that loss stays with us. It changes us. It's always there, just beneath the surface. It doesn't mean it breaks us or ruins us or takes away all hope. It just becomes a part of us and it is certainly not a part of us that should bring us shame. So, sometimes, when we look down at our hand and catch sight of our deceased husband's wedding ring on our finger, we grieve all over again. Nothing is wrong with us. We are normal.
Imagine what would happen if we stopped feeling embarrassed about our grief, stopped apologizing, stopped trying to control and contain it and just acknowledged it honestly and supported each other unconditionally. What if instead of saying, "something's wrong with me" or "I'm not normal" we said "This is grief and it's ok to show it. I'm just like everyone else." Wouldn't that feel better?
For more articles and podcasts by Jenni about grief and hospice, click the links below:
About Changing Perspectives
I often find myself encouraging people to consider changing their perspective or reframe the way in which they view things. This blog is an extension of that practice and is also an opportunity for me to write from a number of different perspectives including clinician, educator, mother, friend and supervisor. Blog topics are also quite varied and changeable. Topics explored include, but are certainly not limited to, grief, parenting, health and wellness and relationships. Join me and explore a number of changing perspectives!