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An Epidemic Of Taboo Grief

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An Epidemic Of Taboo Grief
Ex-spouses, lovers, pets, homes, jobs? How do we handle our grief when society doesn't seem to care?

Do you belief in omens, signs and premonitions?

When it comes to predictions, I always like to say there is a 50/50 chance that things will come true. If something happens we easily attribute it to a sign, when in fact, perhaps it was just a coincidence, usually recognized in hindsight. However, I was intrigued when 3 out of 4 times that I started my car last weekend, Eric Clapton’s Tears from Heaven started just I as turned the key! On the other hand, if nothing happens, we give no importance at all to the sign.

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As far as signs go, the first few days of November have always been significant for me. November 1 was my paternal grandfather’s birthday and also All Saints Day. November 2, The Day of the Dead, was my maternal grandmother’s birthday and my ex-husband’s as well. November 3 is just an in-between day with my birthday being November 4. Besides the presence of holidays honoring the departed, there is also the amazing proof that Scorpios can get along.

At my birth, my mother carefully chose my name with the most symbolic initials I could ever imagine – DEW -- the day’s first source of nourishment, replenishment and life on Earth. Scorpio is a Water sign and water is also the symbol of sentiments and emotions in astrology and Jungian psychology, one of my passions. It seems as if I have been destined to work in the field of human relationships, emotions and helping people since birth and if signs came into it, I could argue that was true even since conception.

Then, when I married and took my husband’s name, my initials became DED, a premonition in my mind that shadows may lie ahead, and for which no further phonetic explanation is needed. Curiously, I have always been pulled to learning about death, its rituals, grieving and completion. Was this an omen, a confirmation of my calling to be a voice for taboo grief?

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When it came to grieving the loss of my ex-husband, who died only 4 years after our divorce following a 17-month battle with brain cancer, I found no support, no one who truly understood and got what I was going through. There were groups for widows, groups for divorcees, groups for parents who lost children, groups it seemed for everything but what I learned is called disenfranchised grief, grief from a loss that is unacceptable or less in the eyes of others. Who believed, much less cared that he and I had promised to be there for each other if we really needed to be and that we talked about being grandparents together? Who could I talk to about the tension between me and our sons at times? Who had been in a similar situation and could understand the kaleidoscope of emotions that I was living? In my numbness and all the advice I was receiving from well-meaning souls, I, too, dismissed my own grief as not being that of a legitimate widow. It was a limbo-kind of category and even though I threw off the label of divorced-widow, I couldn’t shake the feelings.

Taboo grief, or disenfranchised grief, is a hidden epidemic that has those suffering from it feeling unacknowledged, misunderstood and looking for help until sometimes they just give up and never become complete with their loss. With accumulated loss and the sadness that goes with it, many people are walking around with a hole in their heart and a heavy weight that are affecting every aspect of their lives and impacting those around them.

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