Many blogging friends have written to say it’s okay to ‘not be strong’ “…don’t set any strict benchmarks for yourself or allow anyone to do so either.. Have you really really cried till date?..” I truly appreciate these emails and I agree with them. I do cry. Even when I don’t cry I am still thinking about the painful weight in my chest – and why it is there. I have also found that thinking and sharing positive thoughts gives me a lot of comfort – though not everybody might feel this way. And sometimes I worry if finding comfort like this could be ‘avoiding pain‘.
A friend, who read the last post (The right way to grieve), called to say I seem to have taken my loss really badly. He said it was more than a month now and I have been blogging about my grief and nothing else, he felt this indicated that I wasn’t thinking of anything else, probably not even trying to think of something else. He suggested I look for interests other than those related to Tejaswee – like assume my right hand was cut and I would never forget the hand and the loss will always be felt but it was time to find something other than the right hand to talk about. He suggested I will myself not to think of my loss and pain. This made me understand what ‘avoiding pain‘ means. I don’t think I wish to or am ‘avoiding the pain‘. I am doing nothing more than sharing and reading and trying to understand what I am going through. I had read all I could about pregnancy and child birth when I was carrying my daughter, I read about child rearing when the kids were growing up – some of us need to understand and know about whatever they are doing/going through – I feel I am just being myself… and this is helping me cope.
Also consider what the options are.
1. Is it really possible not to feel the pain?
2. Is it better to think and to feel but not to share it by writing?
3. Or by talking? One really needs to talk.
Tell your story as often as you can in appropriate times and places. Narrating a tragic event helps you to get that it happened, to give it form and focus in your mind, and eventually may help you find some meaning in it all. To people who want to “do something for you,” explain that the most loving thing they can do is listen to your story.
When you are telling your story or talking about your tragedy, do so appropriately. Don’t take more than your fair share of others’ time and attention. I call this “the art of grieving gracefully.” If you talk or cry for too long, everyone else gets very uncomfortable. You will feel their tension and you will become uncomfortable too. There is no healing in talking when others don’t want to hear it any more—it will just make you feel worse in the end. –Robbie Davis-Floyd
(Thanks for the link Indyeah)
4. And what about the times when one isn’t able to sleep? One can cry alone or wake up other family members in the middle of the night. Or…
5. Or one can switch on the laptop and share one’s grief with someone else who understands and feels the same pain? For that one needs Support Groups.
The virtual world is rich with information that makes it possible to hear what people are trying to say when they insist it was time to ‘move on‘.
So when another friend called with ‘solutions’ and gave examples of other parents who have ‘moved on’, who are always happy, who socialize (that I am not ready to do yet) and when she insisted that instead of blogging I should ‘get busy‘ doing ‘some social work‘, I could still see that she only wanted to help.
But we really need to know that it helps much more to listen and support than to provide solutions. It is more helpful to let the grieving person talk about how they are feeling instead of telling them how they should be feeling.
Ignorance like this can do terrible, terrible harm. I know of mothers who have not smiled in years – one of them had lost her son, a doctor, and lived with a blank expression on her face all her life. Another one’s children are not allowed to tell their friends about a brother they once had. Yet another one is so clearly depressed but I never realised it though she lived in the house next door – (I felt there was no other way a mother could possibly take it) – what they needed was Grief Counseling or a Support Group. They needed the compassion of parents who have faced similar loss. They – each one of them, needed to know that nobody should have been telling them what was the right way for them to ‘get back to normal’. They could have insisted upon support and not advice/ short cuts/ solutions being provided.
That is why I am creating a new blog – a Support Group for those who have lost a loved one. Thanks for suggesting this How do we know and Sangitha.
Note: Suggestions for a name for the group welcome.