Grief and mourning go hand in hand, and they are not exclusive to those that have died. It can be experienced in many ways, and mourning can be associated with many different things.
The loss of a job that has been a way of life for years can be like a death. Things change, and with change often comes a period of mourning, although not everyone acknowledges their feelings as such. Illness and loss of bodily function, appearance can also lead to grief.
Children moving out of the family home for the first time can be a cause for celebration for those left at home, or – it can be a loss – and mourned as such. Speak to mothers who’ve experienced this. Initially relief that finally your child has grown up enough to leave home, followed by sadness or even true grief. Your baby doesn’t need you any more. The reality is very often that they’ll be back – not necessarily to stay, but for chats, advice and the like, or to bring the washing! But it’s hard to see that at first.
Then there is the grief that comes with death. The grief we cannot put a time limit on.
Most commonly, the loss of a loved one is a parent or older relative. That is the usual order of life. We reach an age, and then we die. Hopefully we go gracefully, or better still quickly rather than a lingering on.
But then too often, comes the tragedy of losing a child. The age doesn’t really matter, as it doesn’t seem right that your child should go before you. That’s not the way of life!
From personal experience, the initial grief was raw, harsh and totally absorbing, blended in with shock and disbelief. This grief can be for sharing; having someone to talk to who remembers that child can be truly comforting. We were blessed as a family to have friends who came to share in our grief, to be there to support us in that extreme need. They gave us the strength to keep going, or at least it seemed that way at the time. With them you can release the healing laughter, reminiscing over some of the mad and memorable moments of that lost life.
For others who do not have that luxury, then the strength comes from who knows where.
Tears – how much can a body cry? You begin to wonder just where the tears come from and when will they stop! Floods of them, cleansing perhaps, but all part of the mourning process.
Despair too, is a part, and wondering how on earth will you get through this. But you cope. It is amazing where the strength comes from, but it appears when you need it. People comment on how strong you are, but inside you feel quite differently.
As time goes on, the grief becomes more bearable, it seems to wax and wane but you never really know when it will come. You try to contain your grief for the sake of others, but it seems that the more you are in control, the harder the next bout will be. It has a nasty habit of sneaking up on you when you least expect it. You’ll be driving along and a song will come on the radio – one that was a favourite or you associate with them and the tears come again.
Oh there will be anger too at some stage – how dare they go and leave you to suffer? Anger at the loss of potential, the possible grandchildren, the chance to be related to a famous movie star perhaps. But that passes, and with the passing comes acceptance. Then a certain calmness and even peacefulness. The feeling that it was all meant to be, all part of the order of life leaving simply – sadness.
This journey will run parallel to the rest of life, beside the day-to-day stuff. Every now and then you will stop and wonder what your life would be like if they had lived. Daydreaming about possibilities forever gone, but then life and reality creeps back in again and you get back to the practical things in life.
What will we have for tea tonight?