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.
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.