The Other Side Of Grief

griefFor the first time, I have been directly impacted by the death of a loved one.  It has been an eye-opening experience for me.  While I can’t say that I have been overcome with grief, it has had its moments of difficulty.  I have been amazed at the things that have to be done and how people respond to you during these times.  Let me give you my view on this side of it:

How People Respond

This one is all over the place.  Everyone responds differently.  I have had people text or call me directly to let me know they were thinking about me.  This has meant a lot to me.  I have had flowers sent to me which touched me deeply.  While people really don’t know what to say, just acknowledging it helps a lot.  Some people say nothing or ignore the subject completely.  I think I can understand that because they simply don’t know what to say and they don’t want to make me sad.  However, having been through this, I think I would rather people say something than nothing at all.  Co-workers have had an interesting response as well.  I have had some who just said they were sorry for my loss and then others that lead with that and then into what they need me to do.  That’s pretty tacky in my opinion.  At least send separate emails.  People are funny and you really don’t know what to expect from them.

Funeral Preparation

Who came up with the idea of the traditional funeral obviously had no regard for the ones grieving.  I’m amazed at the decisions that need to be made even if the deceased had planned their funeral.  Do I really need to decide on what color scheme the pallbearers should wear?  What color does the casket need to be?  Do I prefer a flag or no flag on the casket?  Opened or closed casket?  These are some decisions I never thought I would ever have to make.  I can’t imagine if it were someone totally overcome with grief doing this.  I’m sorry but I also don’t not like funerals.  The visitation seems to be more like a family reunion.  The funeral service itself and then yet another ceremony at the cemetery.  A grieving person has to go through this over and over again.  People like to use the words “closure” or “paying your respects” but it is torture.

The Will

I was not made the executor of my loved one’s Will but let me caution you to be totally informed of what you’re getting into if you are ever asked to do this.  I would highly advise to have a neutral person who is not related to the family to carry out the responsibility.  It is much too overwhelming for a family member to do regardless of the size of the estate.  If you are making out a Will, make it easy as possible to disperse things you wish to give to those left behind.  Don’t make it a burden.  The execution of the Will only prolongs the process.  It is difficult to move on when you are having to deal with what’s left behind.

Family

I have been surprised with the response of my relatives.  Their reaction was not what I had expected.  I have lost contact with most of my family over the years and regardless of that, they responded and have been very supportive.  I’m still not ready for a family reunion but I have added several to my contact list and hope to remain in touch with them.

The Grief Process

Although I can’t say that I’m overcome with grieve but I can tell you that it’s a strange feeling.  There are moments I will have a flashback with no warning or cry without notice.  How someone grieves is not the same for everyone.  There is also no time limit.  I know most people expect you to get over something in 30 days or so but it really depends on the individual.  It also doesn’t help to ask continually “What’s wrong?”.  It helps much more to ask “Are you okay?” or “How are you doing?”.   Believe me.  There is a difference.  I have moments of sadness but also times of anger over what could have been or things that could have been different.  It helps to do things and to keep living your life.

Like I said in the beginning, I’m new at this.  This is my first experience with grief and the experiences that goes with it.  I think with everything that happens in life, you learn from it.  I think that I have learned a lot better in how to respond to others when they are going through it.  If nothing else, just knowing people care mean a lot.  You know that you are not alone.  My wife has been through this herself and she has been a rock for me.  She can relate and she is guiding me through this new area for me.  That means a lot.  You’re not always capable of thinking clearly or keeping your focus so it is important that you have someone you can lean on when you aren’t totally yourself.  We all need a little help don’t we?

No, I don’t like being on this side of grief but it is comforting to know I am not alone.  I will get through this and I will press on.

 

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