Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 9th- the day between death and the funeral.

I have a message for the world untouched by grief: back the hell off. Grief is not a disease. It isn't a crime. It should not be forced into dark rooms and discussed in whispers. It shouldn't be eradicated or drugged out of existence. It's the province of the grieving, a place you may be invited to, but you have no business barging in. Much less pretending to rule.

Modern psychology is full of shit: grief is not something you need to "get out" right away, it's not a tumor made of words that you must immediately pry out of someone who has been through a tragedy. It's not your job to make a grieving person "talk about it." You have no right to tell another person to "get over it" or that there's a time limit to "normal" grief. You can do more damage forcing a grieving person to "relive" the events in order to "fix" them, than by ignoring them altogether.

Grief is not a thing you get rid of in six months like a bad hair cut. Do not tell grieving people they should be "get over it" just because your magical timeline says so.

There's no need to pretend nothing happened, but do not assume you have the right to pry into another person's grief just because you know about it. If they're not talking about it, do not, especially in public, bring up their grief and try to make them "talk it out." You are not the special grief whisperer. Yes you can make me cry in the middle of an otherwise good day, but that doesn't take much talent. And it doesn't mean we have a special connection. It means you used my weakness to create a false intimacy.

If you ask me how many children I have and I say two, but then explain that I lost one, be respectful. Don't just ignore it; say something, however awkward, to acknowledge me. I will be grateful no matter what it is or how stupid you think it will sound. To me it will sound like a gift of common humanity. It will feel like a hug. I will appreciate that you, a total stranger, made the effort and paid respect to my pain.

If a grieving person chooses to share their feelings with you, realize how much trust and love is in that sharing and be honored, and accepting, and unjudgmental. Listen to what they have to say, ask questions if you need more in order to understand. But most of all listen, every word they pass on to you is a gift. One day, unless you die very young, grief will visit you, and wreck everything in its path; and every emotional gift that grieving friend once gave you will become the power tools you'll need to rebuild your life.

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