About a month ago I found a book on my iBooks called "The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells." The book peaked my interest because it was a time travel plot of a woman working through mourning of the death of her brother who passed away after a long battle with AIDS. The time travel is actually hallucinations from electric shock therapy, but she doesn't know it for quite awhile. At first I was worried it might be a trigger for me, but it ended up being a really good healer (in an odd, semi-morbid way) and provided a raw perspective on mourning that still has me thinking. As we prepare for Memorial Day in the United States, I thought it was only fitting that we address this life event that none of us can bypass and never quite master.
I've read a number of books and articles over the years about the mechanics of mourning and the common denominator is always this: we mourn because we love. Therefore, it is OK to cry and be insanely sad and angry, even when we know it was for the better. I've also learned that mourning doesn't just address the death of a person. It also addresses death of a relationship because of divorce, the closing of a chapter because of a career change, the death of a pet or even the mourning of childhood as a child becomes an adult. I've had friends and family who have experienced ALL of these scenarios and it is very challenging and always comes back to: we mourn because we love. I think the most challenging part of mourning is that we all mourn SO differently. Since the passing of my Granddad, my Grandma has said many times to me that she recognizes that she mourns differently than her children and grandchildren and that she is always mindful of our individual challenges along with her own. In true @beYOUdesignsut form I opened it up for my social media followers and friends to share some thoughts about their experience with mourning. I was so moved and humbled that they were willing to share their thoughts with me. To protect their privacy I will not include their names.
- H: "My dad passed away 9 years ago on May 28th; just before Memorial Day and his birthday. I always think of him this time of year. It took me a good 6 months to begin to feel somewhat normal after he died. I was the quintessential daddy's girl and still find myself thinking about him frequently. My mom, who had divorced him many years prior, was the one person that shared my grief in a similar manner. This shared grief helped me get through the tough times. It really helped talking with somebody that truly understood the sadness."
- A: "Sometimes the grief is so strong. The only way to move forward is mourn again. The way I mourn is to show pictures of my brother at times that I remember him most. But my grief is always silent.
- A: "About mourning....wow. I'm not sure I have the words to explain about grief and mourning. There are so many things I've learned about grief since my mom died. First of all, I had no idea how PHYSICAL grief is. It's not just emotions. It has full-on physical aspects that can affect you so much that they become overwhelming. After my mom died, I had a hard time sleeping. I often had headaches and I gained weight from the stress. In addition, I had a hard time even caring about anything and I had VERY little patience for those around me. Something very positive for me that has come from my grief has been seeing the "mourning with those that mourn" ideology [Mormonism] in action. It was so comforting to have friends attend my mom's memorial service and cry with me. Even months later, I have friends who talk to me about my mom and weep with me -- truly mourning with one who mourns: me. But I've also seen it in my life. I have SO much more empathy for others who have a death in their family. I never would have had that much emotion or empathy regarding another person's loss without have gone through a similar experience myself. It has truly been a blessing in my life to be able to mourn with other people who mourn."
- J: "I think mourning is a long process with very sudden, short-lived, truly sad moments. My grandmother passed in January and she had been so sick. I know she was ready and at peace so I am glad she doesn't have to suffer any more. I didn't cry a lot when we had her funeral. I was strong for my family and I felt a lot of peace knowing she was going to heaven. (It is sad to leave this world, but the wonderful things to come are beyond my imagination.) There were moments of sadness, but no lay down and cry sad times. We really celebrated her life. However, a couple of weeks later, someone posted something on Facebook about the slippers she made and how wonderful they had them at the cabin. Friends of my cousin were using the slipper she made. I was hit with insane jealousy and that they had them and I didn't. I cried over slippers, but it was tears for the loss of the amazing woman who would never make me another pair. It passed, but moments still come and go where you feel that loss. Our lives continue on and we have to live in the present but the sadness of loss lurks somewhere under the surface and rears is head on occasion.
The moral of the story: May we share our quarters and send random mail while living the legacy of our loved ones who have passed on AND mourn with those who mourn. One thing is for sure, it always eases the pain of others when there is a spare, caring shoulder to cry on when it is our turn.
Until next time, my lovelies!