Think about it. All the judgments we have for what is legitimate acceptable grief and what isn’t, according to personal and cultural perceptions, our own experience and beliefs. Society and others decide what we should feel and for how long, ignoring that every individual and every loss is UNIQUE. Grief doesn’t follow a set path and stages as some would like to believe.
Our culture implies that smiling, handing out cookies to distraught children, keeping a stiff upper lip with positive thinking and a "some people have it so much worse" kind of attitude will make us more optimistic and provide relief in the face of loss.
• “Have a cookie and you’ll feel better,” we tell our children.
• “Smile when your heart is breaking…” might work for a sentimental moment on stage or at the Oscars.
• “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” has never resonated with me as authenticity. What do you think about this one?
• “Time is a healer.” Really? Time goes on without a care in the world for us and when you can’t get out of bed, hoping for an unknown time in the future when it will all be over and that just never really comes is of no consolation.
• “Big girls and big boys don’t cry.” Go cry in silence, isolated and come back when you’re composed and we’ll talk about something else. Manage your emotions and get over it already.
Barbara Streisand had it right. “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Yet, we are so uneducated in the area of grief, that we ignore how to connect with people when they need us the most. No loss or event triggering emotions are too small to be ignored and yet we do.
• Loss of an ex-spouse
• Loss of a lover when he or she is married to another person
• Loss of a home due to foreclosure
• Loss of a lifestyle due to an accident, health or disability
• Loss of a job
• Loss of hope, faith and friends
• An ex-spouse remarries 10 years later and we are thrown into a flurry of unexpected emotions
• Loss of a friend or relative who was closer to you than anyone else on your family tree
Taboo grief is all around us in epidemic proportions. What are your thoughts? What is your experience with it?
P.S. I had personally been feeling disconnected from my sons since their father's death in February 2011 and have had to work hard and consciously to keep my energy and focus alive. I knew that we were all going through a tremendous loss together in our own unique ways and that even though I felt that way, our love and connection was strong. It was going to all come together with authentic and open communication. Imagine my complete surprise and over the moon joy when my son, Justin, who lives in France, showed up at my birthday party yesterday!