It's Your Grief
(Champaign, IL, USA)
Some years back, I lost a child before birth. We named him Henry Michael, after two great-grandfathers. The death was unexpected and sudden.
I did attend church and that was a source and comfort immediately following the death. The minister came and talked with me and then talked with our other children who were 12 and 17 at the time.
As time went on my grief intensified rather than decreased and I was making myself miserable as well as those around me. I expected my husband and children to grieve in the same ways and at the same intensities as I did.
I got counseling, first from our minister and then a psychologist. I went to support groups and got a prescription for an anti-depressant.
I really didn't understand why no one else understood my grief and I was angry. I started going to the neighborhood tavern after dinner each night and then ended up having to call my husband to come and get me. One night though, the bartender, and older gentlemen said I would no longer be served alcohol. I was welcome to come and have a coke and jaw all I wanted but they weren't serving me anymore.
How embarrassing, being cut off. Shortly after this I decided to sit down and take a look at myself and my grief.
What I found was that I was living for my grief. I wasn't living. I purposefully and with much vigor found other activities to occupy my time and found ways to help others. I really couldn't help anyone with their grief but I did work in a soup kitchen.
It was my grief and I could choose what I was going to do with it. I could tear myself down and in the process, tear my family apart or I could do constructive with that energy.
It's been 13 years now and I can still be brought to tears over the event. I miss that child that I never got to know, but I've put it in perspective and when I get sad, I acknowledge that sadness and then I move on to something constructive.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
This is a very powerful and moving story, Priscilla. Thank you for sharing from such depth within you. This is truly a gift to all who have the opportunity to read what you've written. I like your idea that "it's your grief." Everyone grieves in their own way, and we can--as you discovered--get very upset if we expect others to grieve like we do. My best to you on your continued journey.
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