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Life Goes On … Or Does It?

June 9, 2010

Heavy topic alert!

Call me morbid, but I LOVE this topic. And I believe that, as with so many things in this buttoned-up society, that we do not talk about it enough. We don’t give ourselves permission to fully grieve so many losses that are important to us. So many of us don’t even recognize that what we’re feeling is “grief.”

Sure, when someone we care about dies, we know to call that grief. We kinda, sorta know what to do. But what about more ambiguous losses?

Loss of love, through divorce or breakup. Loss of a close friendship. Loss of the life we expected to have.

When I do workshops for families of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and refer to their experience as a grief process, the atmosphere in the space changes. A hush comes over the room. It is almost reverent.

My sense is that the people in the room feel acknowledged.

Most of them say they have never thought of it as “grief.” Most of them say their friends don’t want to hear about how hard it is to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, especially if that loved one lives in an assisted living residence. And since these family caregivers don’t want to seem like complainers, they just grin and try so valiantly to bear it.

They don’t have societal permission to grieve. So they don’t give themselves permission to mourn. They are expected to live their lives as usual. So they try. They may not know it, but this is grief, interrupted.

Grief, interrupted. Grief never really begun. The roadmap for this kind of grief is unclear. There are no Elizabeth Kubler-Ross stages to serve as a guide. Yes, life does go on, but it is a life forever altered. Let’s talk about it here. I invite you to join the conversation. You’ve got my permission. 😉

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