On Grief


I am angry and terrified as I hear of a friend who has lost her spouse suddenly. The sadness and horror of it all seem to be creeping closer and closer, yet I have not the time to process the grief I feel properly. Our society does not allow it. 

I am lucky to work in a place where I am surrounded by family, colleagues I consider family, and if I was to request time off, they would not hesitate to allow this. But in today’s world, sometimes we feel we cannot ask this. 

I am horrified to learn details of the tragedies that seemed so far away, now consuming those close to me. I am scared. I am scared that if we are not given time to grieve, it will tear us down and shatter us, as I watched it do to my father many years ago when we lost my mother. It ripped through our family and tore us apart because we were both expected to keep living, although both of us were only there in a minimal capacity because we did not stop. We did not speak. I was an adult child to my father, and in turn felt responsible for his grief that was never expressed. The consequences are still present today. 

grief is sometimes feeling alone in a crowd

I do not want my daughter to experience this, yet it is a result that happens when we are given one week, or even just three days to process grief before returning to work, to life, to laugh and pretend we are all right.

Sometimes it is less than 24 hours.

Friends gather around laughing and telling stories when all we want to do is scream. They say it is natural and healthy to continue on, but this franticness to do so can be toxic. 

I wish we could stop. But I am not sure we know how. We owe it to our daughters and sons to try. I do not want my sweet daughter to grow up carrying around the heaviness I feel. I want her to feel light and free and comforted. I want her to know she has time to feel all of the feelings she is experiencing and cry or laugh or scream until the world feels peaceful again, and she feels safe. 

mom kissing her sad toddler

I want this for all of us, but do not know how to lift my heart back up to help. I become speechless when asked to recall the details of this friend’s surreal journey, not wanting others to know the intimate details of her husband’s last days. What is there to do? What is there to be done? What is there to say?

Most importantly, do not ask, “How are you?” Our blank expression and sideways smile will answer even before you open your mouth to speak.


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