Recover, Heal, Transform, Grow, Integrate, Learn, Medicalize, Complicated, Disordered, Untimely, Get Over, Process, Move On, Renew, Move through, Stages, Get Past....and on and on and on.

These terms and more are used regularly regarding the time following the death of someone we love. Somehow we find a need to label our grief, to judge it and even medicalize it. It seems as if just saying "I am grieving" or "I am mourning" is not good enough. The labels we insist on using, however, convey a philosophy about grief. Usually a pathetic philosophy. In our death and grief phobic society, (and a society that judges people so quickly and easily) we look for goals such as recovery, transformation, healing, learning, move through stages, move on, get past, integrate the experience, grow from grief and more. We cannot just let grief be grief. Instead we have to solve it as if it was a problem. We medicalize it as if it were a disease. We put it on a time table or turn it into some lesson or change. Grieving people get trapped in this mentality and following a loss too many want to know how long this will take, when does "it" end and shouldn't I be "moving on", getting better, healing? Those who try to help often come from good intentions but too often lack the information they need, feel frightened and/or helpless and perhaps have an inability to accept their own raw or repressed grief.
All of these terms bespeak the need our society has to first of all label people and experiences. The great Krishnamurti put it so well when he said, "The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again."  How true! The first time the child sees that fluffy, alive, moving object, and you say to him, "Sparrow," then tomorrow when the child sees another fluffy, moving object similar to it he says, "Oh, sparrows.  I've seen sparrows. I'm bored by sparrows." I believe this is what we tend to do with grief. We just can't resist labeling and then once labeled we never again just see the pain and the person. We see a process, a stage, an expectation, an outcome or goal, a hoped for transformation or who knows what.

In this society, so hell bent on denying or at least controlling and limiting pain; on achieving, doing and setting goals, on time itself; we toss grief into the ring and almost instantly want to see the end rather than allowing ourselves to feel the pain which is a sign of the love we have for the person who died. Can we just allow it without searching for an end point, a goal, a lesson or whatever? We are a destination/goal/doing oriented society that tends to abandon the "nows" in our lives when "now" is all we really have. But if "now" is painful or is about loss and death, among other things we call negative, then we must figure out a way to make it useful or end it or at least label it so that it is just like everyone else's pain or loss.

And then if the "process" or "length of time" or "transformation" does not happen according to how it "should" happen (i.e. like the norm, like at least 64% of the population-really more), we label it again and call it complicated or disordered or untimely or sick.

Can we get to a place where we just honor our feelings, our pain, our grief, where we are today, and quit twisting it into what it is not? When, if ever, will we come to a place in our society where we do not have to judge and label someone: their pain, their behavior, their feelings, their likes and dislikes, their fears and joys, their very being?

Instead can we just embrace the person we see, accept each other where and how each one is and sit with and walk with that person without an agenda? Without a label? Without a goal?

Only when we allow ourselves to "just be" where we are and accept ourselves as we are and know we do not have to judge, label and/or put expectations on ourselves.....only then will be do the same for each other....and only then will those who grieve be able to just grieve as long and in whatever way works for them...and grieving people will not have to hide their tears at 6 weeks or 6 years or pretend they are "fine" if someone by some miracle did ask.

They will, instead, gain the support, acceptance and compassion of others and ultimately feel less of the loneliness of grief because others will reach out to them at 6 weeks or 6 years or whenever.....reach out with love.

How grateful are those who grieve, whose grief journey is blessed with people who believe this.



03/27/2015 8:35am

Thank you, Mary. I need to remind myself because I carry a voice of patience and acceptance within me and also a voice of "It's been almost seven years. Why aren't you over it? Why do you still feel grief? Get over it." It's important for me to acknowledge the continuing sense of loss for the old life. My father died when my mom was 44. She had a second marriage and many adventures in the world, but when she was in her 80s, she needed to talk about my dad and grief.

Mary Friedel-Hunt
03/27/2015 9:06am

Yes, Elaine, this is what I mean that the bereaved get trapped in what we, as a society and professionals, do to and expect regarding grief. Like you I find myself struggling with those "shoulds" and though I have made good headway, they rear their ugly heads still too often as they say "get over it", "move on", what is wrong with you?". This is the trap set for the bereaved by a death phobic society. I am not surprised your mom wanted to and needed to talk about your dad...and so glad she did. Be peaceful, my friend, even when the turmoil presents itself. Mary

10/06/2015 5:10am

Personal growth comes with the help of support if a person have the support from his family friends and other society members then he can may grow his personality.

12/04/2015 12:40am

Mental fitness involvements for kids and teenagers organize a variety of experts. Child therapists, psychologists and analysts have a casual practice of operating in partnership with public based specialists.


I always more interested in achieving goals than in pleasing people. Aside from loving to work, I need to finish something, anything, if I am going to go through a day. I am kind of dynamic person who dreams the impossible dream, who reaches the unreachable star and who beats the unbeatable foe. learn the difficult skill of changing my mind. I want everything would be perfect. I understand that goal oriented people mostly fail. What I really want is a system that increases your odds of success. Even if that system only improves the odds a little it adds up over a long life.


Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply

Personal Growth &
Grief Support Center