Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How should we handle our grief?

“Deposits of unfinished grief reside in more American hearts than I ever imagined. Until these pockets are opened and their contents aired openly, they block unimagined amounts of human growth and potential. They can give rise to bizarre and unexplained behavior which causes untold internal stress.” ~ Robert Kavanaugh

The Compassionate Friends had this quote on its Facebook page today. It is so in keeping with what I’ve experienced lately. Grief seems to be running rampant.

I’ve been in contact with several people through my involvement with The Compassionate Friends who are hurting so badly. And I don’t know how to advise them – except to tell them my experience through my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On

What I did with my grief was pick myself up almost immediately after my son’s death and begin to fill up my time – with work, working out, writing, reading, and participating in any diversion I could find (movies, plays, opera, trips). As a result, and after eleven years I am a stronger person – at least according to my husband – and not feeling so much of the grief anymore.

But I wonder if my solution is right for everyone. So many times I thought about quitting work, slacking off my workout regime, staying home more, and just letting it all hang out. But, I stopped myself. I just couldn’t do that. I’m too driven.

I wonder if relaxing on the couch, eating those proverbial bonbons, and just allowing myself to wallow would have achieved the same effect.

Being strong takes a lot of effort. It takes pure and constant focus. Could I have relaxed more and taken it easy and still feel as well as I do today?

Please tell me your thoughts about coping with grief.


Julie Jordan Scott said...

I found you via small stones today and wow, not what I expected to find AND YET perfect.

My daughter died nearly 21 years ago. I worked three jobs for a while after she died to avoid the grief even as I grieved. I agree with the quote from Compassionate Friends ~ we are a chronically undergrieved society.

I feel compelled to look through some of my writing files for you and return again.

Much Love....

Katherine Krige said...

My husband died 3 1/2 years ago. In the immediate aftermath of his death, I too filled every waking moment so as not to crumble and disappear. We had just bought our home 5 months previous, so home renovations had me shopping for toilet and tub, showerhead and sink, not to mention paint and more. I was just coming off of maternity leave though, and could not stomach going back to work. I worked at an autobody shop and didn't think my compassion would be quite there for the poor souls coming in complaining of broken bumpers. I allowed myself 6 months to grieve and the hours filled themselves with trips to lawyers, grief counsellors, financial advisors and many hours spent pensive in coffee shops staring blankly at the world passing me by. My children gave me reason to get out of bed, but also felt like stones around my neck. My gift of six months was extended after my 15 year old cousin died in a skiing accident five months after my husband died. Somehow life has changed directions and I never did return to my old workplace, but life has continued on still. I have spent many hours sitting with my grief and pouring through my loss. I have needed to feel it and make peace with myself through the process. Not any easy task, but such is "life". My Mother (who lost her husband when she was of a similar age with 2 little ones like myself) had some very sage advice for me one day. "Everyone's grief is different. People grieve in their own way and no way is wrong. We all need to grieve the best way we know how."

madeline40 said...

Thank you, Julie and kkrige for your input. Yes, I agree. We all have grieve in our own way. There are no rights or wrongs in this grieving game.
Please let's keep in touch. xoxoxo

Annie said...

I'm learning how to grief. When Dad died 5 years ago nothing i did was helpful. Frankly, I don't know if i will ever be able to shake the problems i caused with my health, my social life, and my career. Strides have been made but lots of regret. When my brother Jim (age 33) died unexpectedly in early November, all i knew is i needed to try some things i shunned. I've been praying a lot since Jim died. I don't even know "who" i'm praying too but spending 5-10 minutes in prayer has helped me see things ("answers" maybe) that i wouldn't have otherwise. Just had a powerful prayer experience in my sun room--blinding snow bouncing off 10 inches of snow with dogs tracks. A lot made sense. I felt peaceful. That's just one example. My general depression makes doing stuff in the winter much harder. Add to that a shoulder injury keeping me off the courts a couple of times a week during the winter, and I feel a bit like a blob. Yet, I go to work, I write, I support my family, and i'm trying. Trying to figure out what will work. Trying to understand the unspeakable. Trying.