Saturday, August 25, 2018

There is no contest called grief

I don't think there is any one of us who has lost a loved one and not heard either "I understand how you feel because I..." or "At least you..."
Every loss is different. No matter the similarities no one can say they truly understand what another is going through. 
The loss of my husband is not the same as the loss of your husband. 
The death of your child is not the same as the death of your friend's child.
Watching a loved one suffer years or months of illness and then dying is not worse than or better than losing a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly.
Grief is not a contest. 
There is no easier or harder grief. 
Our own personal grief is the worst grief there is.
That’s why platitudes and some of the pat phrases and ideas some people expound irritate me so much. We can offer support, explain what has helped us, what might work. But we can never say we fully understand what that person is going through. Grief is based on relationship and no two relationships are alike.
Ever.
Everyone grieves and mourns in their own way. If you loved, you grieve when you lose that person. 
And this warning applies to those who purport to make our journey easier by latching on to the spiritual and metaphysical as if that is the answer too.
Don't get me wrong. I am a firm believer in the afterlife and all that entails. Everyone who knows me at all knows that. I even wrote a book about it.
No, my beef is with those who try to sell the spiritual connection we can have with our loved ones as being the antidote to grief. Or better yet, try to sell that new - now spiritual - relationship as being "better than" the earthly one. That is like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. I think to push that thinking is harmful. Negating someone's grief like that is very hurtful to the one who is sad and mourning.
I don't care how many "visits" you have or messages that you get, it's not "better than it ever was". I would give anything to have John walk through the door again and hug the heck out of him. 
But I am comforted by the messages I get from him and the communication that I feel I do receive. 
It helps me in this life until I am reunited with him in the next.
But I would never say that what we have now is better. It just is.
So, the next time you are tempted to help someone who is in the throes of grief by saying you understand or you know how to make this journey better, just stop for a moment. Swallow those words.
Instead, offer a hand. Offer your time. Let that person know you are there to just be, if that is all that is needed.
Mention the loved one's name. 
Cry. 
Hug. 
Your presence and love will help more than you can know.
Namaste.
 

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