Friday, August 12, 2022

We can’t stipulate how others should grieve

While there is no stipulated way in which one can grieve, society has a tendency of imposing limitations on how one should grieve and what one should do or not do when grieving.

People have different ways of grieving, but society is always judgmental and observant about what one does during their time of grieving. Questions like, “Why is she not crying?” are very common in life.

In many instances, people observe the bereaved and how they cry. Have you ever been to a funeral and heard snide comments about how some people do not even look like they have lost their loved ones because they are not crying hard enough? Sometimes when they do cry, comments are made to the effect that they are faking it.

If you actually believe that you can do it better, maybe god should give you a shot at grief. It is not only at funerals that we somehow want to dictate to people how to deal with their loss. Do we really know how one feels when they are reeling from a broken relationship or a lost job?
Some people believe that if one doesn’t cry they are not sad or sorry about the loss, or that they are not hurting over it at all. Others have gone to the extent of judging whether a person is sad at their loss by simply observing how long one grieves.

We seem to forget that grief is a personal thing. Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried, and there is no timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months, while others take years. It is only important for one to allow the grieving process to naturally unfold.

It is natural for the grieving party to be in denial about their loss and not cry for the first few weeks. But they usually break apart later. Others take longer to accept their loss and make peace with the world.

It is also okay to be depressed about it all, to own the pain a little. It is also normal to be angry and try to put the blame on someone.

Grief after all is a multi faceted process. All human beings grieve in response to loss. As inevitable as loss is, we never have a chance to prepare for it because there is no carte du jour of how we are going to lose that which is precious to us. We just get there, and when we do, our bodies respond with no other assistance from any exterior forces. If it’s my loss, it’s my pain. What hurts you may be seeing my pain, but we cannot share the grief. The same goes for everybody.

Can’t we just respect one another’s grief and let the other person go through it the best way their mind, body and soul allows them to?
What I learnt about grief from my mother has changed my perception of it.

I too believed that grieving longer shows that one is really sorry. I complained to my mother some years ago about a schoolmate, who had lost her mother but cried only for a while about it. Her response was a question, which I failed to answer. She asked, “If I die today, will you spend the rest of your life crying for me?”

I did not answer because all in a second I asked myself how I would react to my own mother dying. I do not know what I would do, if I would cry or refuse to accept it, be numb or die myself. Even if I do any of these, I do not know how long it would last. The process of grieving is frequently misunderstood, and many misconceptions persist in our society. Those supporting the grieving person need to anticipate the possibility of a wide range of emotions and different behavior; and then respond in the appropriate manner.


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