I received a list of 31 “Trusims About Grief” from another grieving dad and friend I met as part of this grieving dads project. I plan on posting a new one every couple of days so make sure to check back. I met Charlie on my trip to Buffalo where I interviewed him as part of this project. He provides great insight into what he learned on his grief journey. Very good stuff, enjoy.
Heidi was a vibrant, talented, aspiring actress when she was diagnosed with leukemia at age 18. She spent 2 ½ years showing Diane, my wife, our other 3 daughters, and the world that dealing with cancer can be heroic and done with class, grace, dignity and beauty. She died in our arms, at home. During my journey of grief, many of life’s lessons have become quite clear to me. Here are some of them.
3. “Grieving” touches me more profoundly than “grief”: Grief sounds too static – too easy for professionals (counselors, psychiatrists, social workers, pastoral ministers, etc.) to use as a label or category – too easy for them to identify the stage or stages that parents experience after their “loss”. Stages allow them to provide steps or strategies that we can use so we can “move on” or, in their minds, hopefully find closure. These approaches undermine the density and extent of pain and sorrow that attends to our grieving. “Waves” conjure up more meaningful images – we are at sea and not in some immobile bin. We can drift in the sea – aimlessly; or crash onto the boulders at the shore; or gently ride the tide; or become submerged in the turbulence around us; or tread the waters struggling for answers, peace, or the presence of our loved one on the beach. Wave imagery keeps the reality of the ever changing contours of our sadness – we can never be far from the sight, sound, smell, or breeze that wafts our sadness back into focus and consciousness. To find closure may be good for criminal proceedings – it is disastrous for relationships that need to be nurtured and cherished – it does not matter whether the other person is here or not. To “move on” signals a turning of one’s back to the person or situation – that may be true for jobs or sales, but not for loved ones. And although we may have feelings of loss, let’s not think that we have lost our children – they are not objects that are misplaced. They remain in some transformed way that is beyond our comprehension, so let’s not project our ignorance upon their transformed way of being. Riding the waves is noble, frightening, and precious. It is the strange blessing that comes with dying and it can empower or destroy us. Watching people in the water illustrates the uniqueness of grieving – some wade, some swim proficiently, some float, some sink, some splash, some drown, some laugh – yet everyone is in the water. Grieving has so many styles and ways to swim, yet we all share something terribly in common – we get wet.