Recently, I got my first of two Covid vaccines. I was there early, and had the first appointment of the day (9am!) I was soon distantly joined by a gentleman with the second appointment (9:15am.) We were both masked and stood several feet apart as we noticed each other, and assessed our numbers in the line up.

This exercise felt similar to that of flying the airline that corals us into waves of boarding groups. “I’m A-35, what’s your number?” In both scenarios we are trying to find our proper “place” and confirm that we are appropriately in our assigned physical locations, and in compliance.

When our eyes met there was something very familiar about this man. We were in my home County, and the likelihood that we may know each other was high, especially if he happened to work in an industry that intersected with mine. The face coverings made it a little harder to “recognize” his face, but as instantly as I felt a subtle connection, I said without hesitation “You look very familiar, any chance you are a lawyer?

No” he replied and then briefly chuckled and added “But I am spending a lot of time with lawyers lately.” I responded “Oh, what type of work do you do if you don’t mind me asking?” He identified his profession and then shared “Both of my parents died last year, and I am sorting through their legal and financial affairs.”

That’s a lot.” I responded.

Without missing a beat, this gentleman quickly deflected my support of his loss, like a boomerang, right back to me. “They had great full lives, plenty of kids and that good stuff.” Although his mask covered most of it, he offered a smile as if to say “All good here, don’t feel badly for me.

As I sat and waited for my name to be called, I thought “Now ‘THERE’ is a Pro Griever.”

Before diving into what drew me to assign this (possibly) unfamiliar title of ‘Pro Griever’ to a stranger after just two minutes of interacting, let’s breakdown what I mean by this term.

PRO” refers to professional, defined by Wikipedia as: “A member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform their specific role within that profession.

The underlined, bolded text intentionally highlights the portion of the definition that fits the “Pro” portion of “Pro Griever.”

GRIEVER” refers to, well, let’s also look at the Wikipedia definition: Oops, shockingly there is not one. In contrast to so many definitions for which there are pages of descriptions and synonyms, the Wiki term for “Griever” simply states “Mourner.” (The fact that we can’t even locate an encompassing definition speaks volumes about our overall comfort level – or lack thereof with discussing it.)

So if we follow THAT Wiki definition: “A mourner is someone who is attending a funeral or who is otherwise recognized as in a period of grief and mourning prescribed either by religious law or by popular custom.”

Note that, by definition the term implies a time limit (“period of grief”) and recognizes the impacts of religion and popular custom.

Try processing this title “Pro Griever” given the context and definitions shared above. Part 2 of this discussion will connect the topic to an experience I had in 1997, and hopefully illustrate my own personal definition of this unsought, permanent combination of words which only those of us who belong to the club we never wanted to join, relate to.

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