I have never been so aware of living in a death-phobic, grief-illiterate culture, nor have I ever been as committed to serving people experiencing a death loss. While there is a glut of information about dying, death, and the labor of grief, most people are unprepared to meet personal loss or comfort a griever. Yet, one thing that we know about life, it does not last forever. Death is a certainty, embracing it, a necessity. Understanding death, not fearing it, is a vital element of human development. What is not intuitive about death needs to be learned in families, education programs, and through cultural practice.
Loss is a part of the human journey that is never easy. We experience our first loss the moment we leave the comfort of our mother’s womb and we continue a relationship with loss in a host of lifetime events such as moving to a new place, leaving grammar or high school, broken relationships, loss of health, home or job. As we face planned or unexpected losses we develop strategies and resilience for keeping our emotional balance. Nonetheless even the strongest, most resilient, emotionally healthy people who have continually met loss with grace, have difficulty when they experience the death of someone they love deeply. The sorrow of losing a partner, child, friend or other family member is real and not to be diminished. Understanding grief and filling your toolbox of inner resources can lessen the pain but requires making peace with death, which comes from learning its ways and facing our fear.
Many grievers describe misunderstandings, even anger at inappropriate messages given to them about their loss, which leaves them feeling alone and frustrated over words meant to comfort them. Some innocent, but misguided comments glaringly reveal a profound lack of knowledge about the grieving process. One shocked, offended widow recently told me that within a few weeks of the unexpected loss of her husband she was asked how she was doing. Replying that some days were good and some were not, the inquirer responded, “Really? Still?” This is a perfect example of grief illiteracy and its impact on grievers.
I have long called for grief literacy; indeed one could rightfully regard me as a broken record, and here I am again calling for educating ourselves about death-loss and grief. Here are some palatable books to begin with as well as the Miles Funeral Home website that has many articles which only take a few minutes to read and offer excellent information.
- It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand Paperback – October 1, 2017 by Megan Devine(Author), Mark Nepo (Foreword) ISBN-10 : 1622039076
- Grieving Is Loving: Compassionate Words for Bearing the Unbearable, December 8, 2020 by Joanne Cacciatore (Author) ISBN-10 : 1614297010
- Being There for Someone in Grief – Essential Lessons for Supporting Someone Grieving from Death, Loss and Trauma by Marianna Cacciatore , February 14, 2010 ISBN-10 : 0984454101
- Finding your Way Through Grief https://www.milesfuneralhome.com
Help yourself, your family and your neighbor by increasing your understanding. I assure you such knowledge will one day become useful and necessary.