Saturday, July 2, 2016

Who’s to Judge the Length of a Person’s Grief?

Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness.  It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love.  The only cure for grief is to grieve.
— Earl A. Grollman
At a time when we’ve recently ‘celebrated’ two years since a significant grief started, I’ve often wondered how others honestly perceived me and us in this social media age.  I’m an avid blogger, as you the reader will know.  I’ve written about two-hundred articles on our personal journey since July 1, 2014.  Overall, I’ve written nearly six-hundred on grief and loss.  I’m acutely aware that writing so much is ingratiating for some.  I feel called to write on whatever God places on my heart, but the social media age can bring with such expression the idea of ‘enough already’ in those who receive my posts.  I do understand that that can lead to negative perceptions, which is a cost of expression.
Recently I heard about a woman who had been abused by a Facebook friend for apparently posting too much about her loss.  A lady I’m acquainted with posted a photograph of the text message, worried that someone might do the same to her.  She and her partner had lost their baby at 59-days-old.  Shattered by her loss, her grief found safe harbour within a special group to which I belong — because of our loss.  Only six months have passed.  The baby she had long prayed for, the baby that was hers, hers to enjoy, had Pallister-Killian Syndrome (PKS) — the syndrome our deceased son had.  Nobody can comprehend the journey she’s been on, least of all herself or her partner and their family.  Nobody.
To read words like those in the picture above is infuriating in one sense, and bewildering in another.  Infuriating because nobody gets to say those words to someone bereaved.  Bewildering because there are many out there who think people just need to harden up a little — and nothing anyone says will convince them otherwise.
The point I want to make is this: who can legitimately judge the length, or the expression, of a person’s grief?  And how unfair is it, that, given our grief must be expressed, that the only cure for grief is to grieve, people find they cannot bear those who grieve during this time; that they might find those who grieve ingratiating.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past thirteen years of experiencing a series of losses, it’s that grief lasts longer than we would ever like or anticipate.  And the irony is, the person grieving has had enough of the grief long before anyone on the periphery would complain of them being ingratiating.
Love is measured in how well we bear the burden of others.  It is better than somebody else experiences loss, and that we have the privilege of support, than such loss strikes us.
If someone has experienced loss, let us love them by giving them plenty of space to express how they feel, with no limit of time.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

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