So, I had an interesting conversation the other day (yes, it was with a licensed professional, but it could have been with anyone I suppose). It was about grief and it got brought up in a way that I hadn’t really thought deep enough about over the last 1 year, 6 months, and 13 days.
“Grief – deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death”.
Ok sure, yes, that is a basic definition of grief. There is so much more behind “grief” so I, of course, started googling definitions of grief.
“Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in the familiar pattern of behavior”.
This is getting closer to my idea of the overall general definition of grief. So many feelings. You’re sad, you’re angry, you’re frustrated, yet you’re relieved that your loved one is no longer suffering. Talk about conflicting emotions! Sadness and relief aren’t typically feelings you would hold under the same umbrella. Hence why grief is not easy, in more ways then one.
I will admit I have been feeling a bit more sad lately (which I know will never go away). Whether it’s different triggers. Or whether it’s because Quinlan’s little brother is becoming more and more real to me, and so is the fact that they will never meet. Maybe it’s the hormones. Maybe it’s the month we are in. Or quite possibly it’s all of the above. I know sadness is a large part of grief that will never go away, and in fact I don’t mind getting sad at all. In some ways it makes me feel closer to the whole situation.
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hallow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go”.
One of my favorite quotes about grief! It is more then true. And I think this is a great explanation of why I can say I actually enjoy being sad and crying about the grief I feel about losing Quinlan. As corny as it sounds, it’s the love being given and not having the actual person to receive it physically. It’s all the kisses and squeezes and hand holding that can no longer happen so it explodes out the eyes in tears, and bottles up as the lump in your throat. Grief is not something you would feel without first feeling the insurmountable love for the person. The crying is somewhat relieving.
So, now with all that being said, why is grief something that our culture really does not embrace? Someone is sad because they lost they’re loved one, they’ll get over it. Give it time. Move on. Oh, let’s talk about the new gadget coming out or the new show on Netflix that everyone is watching. Our society almost seems afraid of grief. Afraid of bringing up a loved one because they don’t want to upset anyone. But why? Celebrations are for new babies, and marriages, and celebrating another year of getting older. All things that absolutely should be celebrated. But shouldn’t a life be celebrated as well. We made it a point to specifically say “Please wear bright colors as this is a celebration of Quinlan’s life” when we had his memorial service.
Now let me also say that our situation may not be exactly like others. We had in the back of our minds that this day would be coming at some point, and we saw Quinlan go through things that no parent should ever see, so we may be in a different mindset. I don’t want it to seem like we wanted to celebrate his death. We wanted to celebrate his life. It did not take away from the grief at all, but it personally gave us some healing to have a celebration instead of a mourning.
Everyone deals with grief differently. But grief should not be something that is pushed to the side in this culture. It’s not scary. It’s real. In fact one of the biggest headlines lately is the orca whale who has been swimming while carrying her calf who passed away over two weeks ago. She couldn’t let go. Who would have thought that this story would resonate with so many mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunt and uncles who have lost a little one in their life. The mother is going through her own grieving process and the other whales, her pod mates are letting her be. They’re giving her space and time. They’re not forcing her to move on, to let go. They are feeling for her, are sympathetic for her, are letting her do what she needs to do in this traumatic, sad, unimaginable time.
This is what all of us who are grieving need. We don’t all need to be left alone, yet at the same point we don’t all need to be comforted all the time. We just need to be what we’re going to be. But don’t be afraid of us. Don’t shy away from the grief. You may not understand it, but as a society we all need to accept it.
Until very recently I hadn’t thought about it like that. I didn’t see the overall world of grief and how people react to it. I saw how my husband, family, friends and I have been dealing with it but after talking about it, it’s true. Our society bottles it up and puts it out of reach. And some people don’t mind that, I suppose. They want it bottled up and put as far out of reach as possible. But to me, it’s a big part of my world now. It isn’t scary. It’s not my entire world. But it’s a part of my world that will now always be there.
Maybe the mother orca will show us all that grief exists all around, can be headline news, but it’s ok.