Grieving is neither an illnessnor a pathological condition,but rather a highly personaland normal responseto life-changing events,a natural processthat can lead to healingand personal growth.The transition through this difficult timeis the courageous journey.
"There are three needs of the griever:To find the words for the loss,to say the words aloud andto know that their words have been heard."
"Deposits of unfinished grief reside in more American hearts than I ever imagined. Until these pockets are opened and their contents aired openly, they block unimagined amounts of human growth and potential. They can give rise to bizarre and unexplained behavior which causes untold internal stress."
"Grieving is a journey that teaches us how to love in a new way now that our loved one is no longer with us. Consciously remembering those who have died is the key that opens the hearts, that allows us to love them in new ways."
I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches.If suffering alone taught,all the world would be wise,since everyone suffers.To suffering must be added
- openness and
- the willingness to remain vulnerable.
Grief still has to be worked through.It is like walking through water.Sometimes there are little waves lapping about my feet.Sometimes there is an enormous breaker that knocks me down.Sometimes there is a sudden and fierce squall.But I know that many waters cannot quench love,neither can the floods drown it.We are not good about admitting grief, we Americans.It is embarrassing.We turn away, afraid that it might happen to us.But it is part of life, and it has to be gone through.
The heart of grief,its most difficult challenge,is not "letting go" of those who have diedbut instead making the transitionfrom loving in presenceto loving in separation.
I am a parent twice bereaved.In one thirteen-month periodI lost my oldest son to suicide andmy youngest son to leukemia.Grief has taught me many things aboutthe fragility of lifeand the finality of death.To lose that which means the most to usis a lesson in helplessness and humility and survival.After being stripped of any illusionsof control I might have harbored,I had to decide what questions were still worth asking.I quickly realized that the most obvious ones --Why my sons? Why me? --were as pointless as they were inevitable.Any appeal to fairness was absurd.I was led by my fellow sufferers,those I loved and those who had alsoendured irredeemable losses,to find reasons to go on.Like all who mournI learned an abiding hatred for the word "closure,"with its comforting implicationsthat grief is a time-limited processfrom which we will all recover.The idea that I could reach a pointwhen I would no longer miss my childwas obscene to me and I dismissed it.I had to accept the reality that I wouldnever be the same person,that some part of my heart, perhaps the best part,had been cut out and buried with my sons.What was left?Now there was a question worth contemplating.