Grief Public Service Announcement:
#2 of 10: “Time does not heal all wounds.” Click here for original post.
Circling back on this key point which we originally discussed in April 2021, the concept stems from my experience in talking with grief supporters who’ve shared that they don’t bring up the loss/person/death/miscarriage/etc. because they don’t want to upset the person hurting. In other words, if we are enjoying ourselves they don’t want to remind us of our pain, and if we are in pain they don’t want to make it worse.
This is a perfect illustration of how the complications of grief can get us all turned around and tangled up. As an outsider, if I’d never suffered the loss of a loved one (I’d have to go back to high school to try and recreate that brain), this logic makes perfect sense. I would figure “Out of sight, out of mind,” or “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” and get to work on busying the person with plans to look forward to or something new they are doing, in an effort to distract them.
But as the mother of two deceased children and multiple close friends and family members who have passed, my personal experience is that this logic couldn’t be further from the truth. I understand why it makes sense. But here’s what non-grievers don’t have the benefit of knowing: No matter where I am or what I am doing I am always breathing just above my tiny childrens’ faint breaths. They are always, and only during every moment, here with me. So while it makes sense that if trying to support someone, we followed the above logic, it makes no sense if you are the person in pain. And if you are not the person in pain how would you know, if we don’t tell you?
If you are the person in pain, it can actually be completely misunderstood, and misconstrued to feel more like a level of apathy, aloofness and absenteeism from those around us. When no one says the names of my children, and when I don’t say them (‘Alexis and Emmanuel’ – like that) there is a chill in the air that surrounds us. There is a vacancy that grows colder and wider over time.
And when enough time passes we hit that grief threshold I have written so much about, and end up reacting inappropriately to some other random situation. And when the levy breaks and I am crying in the middle of a business dinner and have to excuse myself because someone said “Losing a pet is like losing a child” I have no way to understand that I am not reacting to the dinner, but rather the unnoticed pain that is clamoring for my attention, acceptance, affection and honor.
And if you are the person hurting, it may even feel like abandonment that no one is asking about your lost loved one by name. Or talking about them anymore. Or asking how I am even still standing. Again, this leads to increased loneliness and isolation. The narrative I can get revved up is “Wow, I guess no one cares that my daughter Alexis died anymore because no one asks about her.”
This narrative is chilling. And simply not true. But I think there is a tremendous amount of trepidation on the part of grief supporters who think they will remind us of the pain and that it is most kind not to bring that up.
So that is today’s Grief Series PSA #2. It originally read “When you lose someone you love, it never goes away” but I have corrected that to say, that “THEY” never go away which is hopefully more accurate. You can access the original post here, and also leave comments below if you have any experience with this from your perspective.