Grief in Society

Well another anniversary of my Father’s death has slid by. And with it the days of January. Like two bookends, my parent’s deaths enclose January for me, and it’s time I reflected a little on the matter of grief.

The society I live in, has a very regimented way of looking at grief. Fifteen years ago, I saw a grief counsellor after my Mother died, and she handed me the steps of grieving. But my grief certainly didn’t fit neatly into this packaged form of grieving.  And for me, I grieved in my own way, as many millions will do.

And this will not fit into the neat package most people will deem acceptable. Apparently after a year, you can just move on, and get on with life. And there was this unwritten law that you shall not show emotion over your loss. I was expected to be normal again, to not acknowledge that fundamentally my life had changed.

Change it did, as everyone who has lost someone will attest to, your life is never the same, There will always be times when the loss is close to the surface, anniversaries, births, deaths, holidays and special days that you celebrated with them.

This strange society we live in, expects us not to stop and acknowledge these moments, but for you to keep going and going and going. I can remember being at work, on the day I got news of my Aunt’s death. This was a year after my Father’s passing, and I just closed the door to my office and wept. The emotion that day was so strong for me, and the only way I could cope was the actual physical and emotional release that a good old fashioned sobbing session could provide.

At the time, I shared the office with an ex warrant officer, he simply shooed everyone else away, and left me in there, while I wept. And for that small mercy I was ever so grateful. Not everyone gets an opportunity to have this time, especially at work.

From then on, I became an outlet for people who needed some time to chat. Men and women who just needed a little time to be heard, they spoke to me of the losses they had experienced, and they left just glad to have had someone listen and hear their stories.  This I think is the most important gift we can give the bereaved, apart from the tea and sympathy, but the time, to sit with them, and listen to their stories. Sometimes you’ll need a box of tissues for you both to get through it, but in the listening, you are giving the gift of attention to their loss, in a society that deems they should just get over it.



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