Society and Loss

There are places where we can come into conflict when it comes to our need to grieve.

Our place of work and our friends and neighbors are often less patient and understanding then we need them to be.

In many cases the amount of time where we receive understanding and support is less than we require. You may very likely still be reeling from the pain of grief, and yet your employer expects you to be back at work, functioning “normally” and those you know may have moved on expecting you are moving forward too.

It’s very difficult to speak of grief being managed in terms of time, but chances are when you are supposed to be “yourself again”, you will not be able to cope or manage the way you may be expected to.

Bereavement leave in most work places is limited to a few days. You return to work, still not fully realizing what has happened to you, your life and your future.

Jane said it was almost impossible to function.

“I had to get very good at acting. I pretended to be okay, to be over my sadness, but the reality was I made mistakes that I never made before. My concentration was a mess. I wasn’t eating or sleeping and I cried a great deal when I was alone. When I was at work, I acted like everything was okay, but I was barely able to cope at all.”

Marilyn was shocked at her friends’ response to her grief.

“I was married to Jim for 33 years and most of my friends never speak of him or ask me how I feel. Oh, they offer something from time to time, but it seems insincere. I get the feeling they would rather just be done with my problems and move on to something else.”

Jane and Marilyn’s experiences are not uncommon. By and large these things happen, not because friends and employers don’t care, but because so many don’t know what to say and do, so pushing on seems to be a good option.

When we suffer from grief and are left feeling sad, lonely and confused, we can find ourselves in conflict with the needs of those around us. Society, your friends, your co-workers and your employer are all in the midst of life and living and they don’t want to be reminded of the pain of death.

Not only do those you know not know how to help you, or know what to say or do, but they likely don’t want to be reminded of what life may have in store for them too.

Unless we live a very short or unusual life, we too will have to suffer through the hurt that the death of someone we love brings with it.

The griever is, in some ways, the party crasher who brings word of what lies ahead and what we will almost all have to face.

Please don’t spoil the party; we don’t want to have to deal with that.

I don’t think people actually think this way, but it’s underlying. Society has a difficult time with the pain of the person grieving and the reality of death and so we push on and we pretend. We do this because we are unprepared and uncomfortable.

If you need more time to adjust, mend and recover, then find a place where you can struggle and be heard. You may have a friend or a co-worker who is patient and knows how to listen. If not, there are resources in every community where you can get help beyond your work place or your friends

Those you know aren’t doing anything wrong by avoiding your hurt; they just don’t know how to deal with it. And you aren’t doing anything wrong by needing to work at your pain and needing more time to sort and recover.

The local funeral home or hospital, hospice, your family doctor or even your community center will probably be able to point you in the direction of help.

You will only get better when you have said, done and felt what you need to.