Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Walking from the land of the dark into the land of the light again
What pops into your head when you see that word? Sadness? A form of weakness? How long should be a typical period of grief? One day? A week? How about a month? The rest of your lifetime?
For me the answers vary depending on what type of situation has brought me to grief in the first place. Have I felt the air of the room sucked out and like I would never see happiness again? Sure I have. Have I laughed at a memorial service because of a common shared memory about the newly deceased? Oh yes, and I don't think that is disrespectful.
Western society on a whole has pushed off grief like it is a treatable affliction. We don't have a set up system on how to properly grieve or mourn like many other cultures do around the world. In fact we are so obsessed with youth and not dying, it is almost like we expect the next headline to read " The problem of death solved. More at six".
Part of life is death. It is all part of the natural order. I never have seen grief as a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you cared about something more then just yourself. I have been to countless funerals and memorial services. As I child I was never kept away from any of that stuff. I have known many adults who have been to maybe one funeral, they have been so separated from death that they don't know even how to approach those feelings of grief.
My small children have been exposed to death now, thanks to the loss of our beloved dog, Gus. I let them be there in our kitchen as he drew his last breathes. This might horrify some but I am giving my kids the tools like need to go out into the world. I told them it was okay to be sad and mad that Gus died but that didn't mean we shouldn't also me happy that we knew him for fourteen and a half years either. We celebrated his life and still talk about him.
Recently I was reminded of how western society used to approach death thanks to Downton Abbey. First black was worn to show a sign of serious mourning. And then as the widow or widower felt themselves coming out of that they started to wear different shades of purple until they wore normal clothes again. Although sometimes they never left the color of black out of a sign of respect for the dead. Which I don't quite understand.
I think that grief is important to go through. I think feeling sad, and lonely is quite alright. I don't see any of it as a problem. It is when you can't get yourself out of that feeling that I would start to worry about a person. Sometimes just talking to a friend helps greatly. Other times people opt to talk to a trained professional. Do what you need to. And yes, I have been completely blindsided by grief to the point that I can feel it's nasty sting of a slap across my checks when I thought I was over my grief.
Never forget to rejoin the land of the light after you travel through the land of the dark. Life is quite the bumpy journey, be incredibly thankful that you are here to experience it.
(I wrote this for a fun new thing my friend Esther is doing on her site. click here to find out more.)