Last week, grief made the news headlines in the moving statement made by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as she completed the 30 days of sheloshim and as Vice President Joe Biden prepared to bury his second son. Each individual was hailed as displaying great strength in the time of tragedy. I also appreciated that both individuals were (Sandberg) and have (Biden) been willing to state the difficulty of grief. It is important that newsworthy individuals provide examples of the pain of grief. As with many causes, if the well known are willing to share their pain, the average person may begin to realize their own pain is normal.
Grief is not a subject that most people feel comfortable discussing. This is exactly why we need to keep discussing grief. It is important for those who are currently or who have grieved to share stories. It is important to acknowledge that life does not go back to normal after 3 days of bereavement leave and it shouldn’t be expected that a new normal is created immediately.
As a grief counselor, many of my clients need only a few sessions. They need validation their emotions and feelings do not make them crazy. I have often been the only person they could openly speak to about their feelings as others change the subject or make it known they are not comfortable. Within my own grief, I have encountered a mixture of individuals. I have had friends who allowed me to discuss my emotions or share stories and I have had others who have never mentioned any of my losses.
Grief can feel isolating. Yet everyone will grieve.
Although most equated with death, we grieve throughout our lives. I believe the struggle occurs because we do not openly address early events as losses or grief. How we handle these early losses leads to the skills we develop (or not develop) in coping with larger losses such as a death.
I feel we need to keep discussing grief so that it is no longer taboo and that we can recognize grief is something that none of us will escape.After all, regardless of the clout and privilege Sheryl Sandberg and Vice President Biden have, they could not escape a sudden accident or somehow purchase a rare unknown cancer cure.
These lessons are why we need to continue discussing grief. Lessons are meant to be shared.
In regards to my own grief journey, today marks the second anniversary of my Nanny’s death. Two years ago, I encountered two deaths within four months of each other and went through eight months of caregiving. There have been more layers of grief than I expected. Even with my own previous personal and professional knowledge, there have been moments which have been difficult. The inner critic has been loud and I have thought if my inner critic is so loud, how loud is the critic of those without my expertise?
From the beginning of the blog, I have felt it important to share the journey of grief from the perspective of a trained counselor. Take away my credentials, and I am no different than any other daughter who has lost a mother or grandmother and I am no different than any other woman who has encountered infertility and suffered a miscarriage. Grief initiates us into a club we never wanted to join but can bring us friendships and support from places we would have never imagined.
Do you have your own grief story? I encourage you to help me and keep discussing grief.