GRIEF, LOSS AND DEATH
The thing about grief is, it’s universal. It’s an intrinsic part of the experience of being human. There are everyday griefs: the work that isn’t satisfying, the promotion we don’t get. The friends that don’t pay attention, or the smartphone that we lose. The disappointments and misunderstandings and niggles of living in relationship.
And then there are immense, life-changing griefs: the death of someone we love, or the anticipation of our own death; divorce and family breakdown; loss of home or homeland; the betrayal of abuse or exploitation. We might not encounter many of these on our path through life – but certainly, we will meet with some of them, and some of us will meet with many of them, often.
The British have a reputation for keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity, and there can be considerable social pressure – from within ourselves, as well as from outside - to suppress our feelings, especially the big, surging, overwhelming feelings that grief engenders. Many of us have been brought up to be ashamed of these feelings in ourselves, and embarrassed by them in others. Lacking healthy models of the authentic, natural expression of grief, and out of touch with the community rituals that once served to connect us at these times, we are not a grief-literate society.
At a time of grief and loss, perhaps more than any other, we need to know that we are not alone; that immense, wild feelings are appropriate; that grieving is necessary work, not self-indulgence or pathology. We need to hear the truth: that we should not be “over it”; that our grief will change, but it won’t go away; that our life really won’t ever be the same again.
“Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived.
Twice in that life I've been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety,
the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal.”
- C. S. ‘Jack’ Lewis in the 1993 movie ‘Shadowlands’