The Right Way to Grieve

Photo by Juni from Kyoto, Japan.
Photo by Juni from Kyoto, Japan.

The last two years have seen several deaths in our extended families. I haven’t blogged about any of them until now for many different reasons: my strong preference for privacy in certain areas of my life; I wasn’t sure what to say about them; other topics seemed more pressing.

The first person I remember grieving over was my grandmother. When she died I’d just reached the developmental stage in childhood when I realized death was permanent and would someday happen to me. I actually have more memories of missing her than I do of spending time with her. We’d moved around a bit while she was still alive, so I suspect that a lot of the nice  stuff she did with me happened when I was too small to remember it.

For a long time I felt like there might be only one right way to grieve.

– You had to be absolutely devastated that this person was gone.

– You had to believe that even the most severe suffering was worth them still being alive.

– You weren’t supposed to have any nuanced feelings about anything related to this topic.

Yes, it’s possible that I have extremely high standards for myself. 😉 Sometimes this is a good thing, but it can also become an unneeded strain in an already stressful situation.

One of the things I’ve been learning through these past few years is that every experience with death is going to be different because every relationship is unique. It simply isn’t possible for everyone connected to the deceased to have the exact same reaction to his or her death. A son or daughter’s grief is different from how a sibling,  pet, or second cousin might react.

That’s more than just okay – it’s utterly normal.

I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I felt when I stopped worrying about grieving the right way. There is no right way to do it. As much as I would like to type out a foolproof, bulleted plan for figuring out how to react to death, I can’t.

It’s something each of us has to figure out on our own.

The only thing I can tell you is this: if you’ve felt it or thought it, so has someone else. You’re not alone.

0 Responses to The Right Way to Grieve

  1. No kidding. You want a weird example? I was really bothered by the passing of Ken Pulliam (this guy) whom I’d never met in person, or even really corresponded with outside of his blog. Then, about a year after that, another fellow passed away, who had been an old friend of mine… and it didn’t really bother me at all. Why not? I don’t know. I can make some guesses — we’d been out of touch for a while, and I’ve kind of moved on from the stage of my life that he was involved with — but I really don’t know.

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