I am tired about talking about grief. I'm done with it. During an interview this afternoon my interviewee wondered aloud if there is exhibitionism in the chasing down of horrific stories to share with the public. When investigating tragedy, find the woman whose mother was murdered in front of her by her father. When asking questions about death, find the man who woke up from a coma. No doubt those stories are interesting -- but do they make ours less so? Life experiences are relative. Grief makes me tired. I am tired. Am I grieving? Maybe not…maybe yes. I am loving this milk and honey I'm drinking (literal milk and honey) although, perhaps my metaphorical cup is full as well. I am tired of talking about grief, but here I go.
At my aunt's funeral this past Saturday, one of the priests of the Episcopalian Church said, "I rejoice for I know that there is a great reunion going on in heaven today. Kim and Roger are together again. I see them up there, relaxing with a couple of margaritas in hand." It was unexpected to hear a description of my aunt and uncle existing as their healthiest and best selves in a heaven that seemed to be just in the room above, throwing back some glasses of a decidedly earthly pleasure. But, secretly, it is a nice thought. Sitting in the pews, I had never thought that that could be the case. And you know what, it could be.
Here is some advice on how to get through grief. Feel free to send in more thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
"These things are tough. My way of coping with this stuff is fairly synonymous with coming from a Lower Working Class New England family. I can’t say you should heed this advice, much of it won’t be applicable but it might provide a chuckle or answer an impossible question or two.
Drink, make mean spirited jokes, tell funny stories, bury a new hatchet for the purposes of having a free hand to wield a new one, distract yourself by rummaging through closets in search of skeletons, say hello to whatever living cousins you find hiding in them, keep Drinking, find solace in old friends you have grown apart from, fuck one of them, regret it, Drink some more, forget it, Drink some more, think about what the deceased would think, have a cry, have another Drink, team up with the black sheep to score some uppers to make you feel good, feel something, feel guilty, team up with an in law to score some downers, feel nothing, regret it, Drink, have a cry, try to sleep, get freaked out, figure out who else is freaked out, listen to some family ghost stories, Drink, have a cry, fall asleep, wake up, reflect on how fucked up you feel, regret it, bond with the sober folks to learn how they are coping with it, tell another funny story, listen to a few, take a walk and spend a minute by yourself, look out at an ocean, mountain, forest, shopping mall…, reflect on how many people are fucked up over missing the person they’re missing, realize you were damn lucky to know them, say a little prayer to whoever you think might listen that half as many people give this much of a shit when you shuffle off this mortal coil, think about how that person lived to effect folks as much you feel effected, think about how to adjust yourself so the people you deem deserving have a fuller relationship with you, think about the people that were taking up space when they were dishing out appetizers at the wake, delete their equivalents in your life from your phone, walk back to join up with everyone else, answer the dozen concerned questions regarding your whereabouts, have a Drink, listen to a few funny stories, realize that if enough good people in your life die you might end up a decent person."
"hi corianna...grief...it's a process that takes time...when my mother died horribly and painfully from cancer, and i don't think i was much older than you, i would literally talk to her, aloud, and i did this for, i am not kidding, five years after she died...i would walk down the street talking to her, and you have to understand this was before blue tooth, so i looked like a true crazy person, walking down the street, talking aloud to her...if i went someplace i thought she might like, when i traveled, i'd talk to her, and bring her with me...crazy, but that's one thing i did when i lost someone dear...i kept her that way...i guess, in retrospect, someone might say i was refusing to give her up or admit she had died, and maybe that's true, but even now i don't care..."
The most important thing that I have taken to heart from everything I learned from him and from my mother (who grew up in the apartment above the funeral home) is that grief happens and is universal. All forms of grieving are valid and appropriate.
Despite that, a huge number of people don't know how to interact with someone who has lost a loved one. I've seen it through personal losses and the losses of others. Unfortunately, it creates a bubble of isolation around those grieving. I find that what the bereaved need most is support and some kind of normalcy as they see fit.
It's also very important to have someone around who validates the grief. Nothing hurts worse when you're dealing with a death than someone minimizing your pain. There's no need to go into the kind of things people say, just know that occasionally people can be shockingly horrible.
Following the tradition of my pépère, here are some grief resources from the National Funeral Director's Guild. http://nfda.org/grief-resources.html"
"You wanted some advice? For me it helps to listen to music and just let my sadness flow. In Holland we've just had a 'hit' about mourning (that sounds a bit weird). Maaike had lost both of her parents when she was young as well, and she wrote this song."
LYRICS in Dutch
LYRICS in English
Thank you to everyone who responded.