Every so often, I have been confronted by a person who is of the belief that I ‘should have moved on’ by now. Where ‘on’ is located is never clearly defined. Some have been other grievers and because of the way they have handled grief in their life, they believe they hold ‘the secret’ and ‘cure’ for grief in my life. Another grieving Momma recently ran into one of these photo-finish camera folks. Such often adds to our grief and makes us feel as if we are somehow doing this ‘grief thing’ incorrectly. It causes us to question ourselves and can often lead to depression.
Let me say it plainly: ‘Grief is not a competition’. We are not running a race seeing who can ‘arrive’ at some imaginary finish-line first, established by some imaginary standards set up by a few. Most of us find a way to deal with such ‘demands’ placed upon us when the source is not a bereaved parent. We learn to accept the fact that they do not understand nor shall ever understand unless they, too,…God forbid…find themselves on this journey. When the source is another bereaved parent, dealing with such becomes more complicated.
Yes, we all do move forward with our lives and we do find that ‘safe place’ within to store all of our memories. Those treasures often surface either by ‘triggers’ or simply because we choose to re-visit them. We never, however, get over burying our child. Those that believe they have, usually fall into a few categories from what I have observed over the eighteen-plus years since I buried my son. I call them the four ‘D’s’:
1- Dudgeon: They have hardened their heart with bitterness, resentment and/or anger as Pharaoh had after he lost his son, so as not to feel the pain of grief.
2- Disguise: They are on some super-duper anti-depressants which disguise and suppress their grief.
3- Distraction: They have ‘escaped’ into a world entrenched with work or drugs/alcohol or sex or travels to distract them from the grief.
4- Denial: They simply deny the fact that they are still grieving in order to ‘appear strong’. These folks often hit a brick wall eventually, and a total meltdown occurs.
There may be more that I am not aware of, however, those are the four categories I have observed most often along this journey.
Why a bereaved parent chooses to judge another bereaved parent boggles my mind. Have they skipped some important steps in their own grieving process that should have taught them that everyone grieves differently? Have they avoided interaction with others on this journey because it stirs up painful memories they prefer to avoid? How is it that they seem to have a ‘missing part’ that prevents them from having empathy for another bereaved parent? Who made them the ‘determinator’ of such things?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, nor do I care to know. What is important to me is how one handles such pressure and judgement so as to avoid, as much as possible, more additional grief on this journey. Allow me to make a few suggestions and if you know of more alternatives, please feel free to leave them in the comment section. We are always learning from one another and what may help one, may not be suitable for another’s situation. Your suggestion may very well be the one that benefits another. I will call these the four ‘A’s’:
1- Avoid. Whenever possible, if you have a ‘Grief Photo-Finisher’ in your life, interact with them on a limited basis.
2- Address. If you are up to it, you can kindly say to them: “I’m happy that you have found a way to ‘put it all behind you’. As for myself, I still miss my child very much and will continue to do so until we are reunited.”
3- Asunder. Completely sever the relationship. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Separate yourself from them and disconnect.
4- Accept. If you are able to accept the fact that they may continue to periodically tout how you should be handling your own grief, and it doesn’t affect you negatively, you have the option to simply let things be as they are.
The only ‘race’ we need to be running is the one for the incorruptible.
2 Timothy 4:7The Voice (VOICE)
7 I have fought the good fight, I have stayed on course and finished the race, and through it all, I have kept believing.
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” I Cor. 9:24-27
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at: Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and DeeperShopping. Additional international retailers: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/gifts-from-the-ashes,jude-gibbs-9781498496728
Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/
Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))