Monday, November 1, 2010

The funny thing about grief. Monday, Nov. 1, 2010

“Tears are the silent language of grief.” –Voltaire

A dear friend of mine lost her beloved mother suddenly last month. In our church we have repeated observations of one’s passing. We honored her “40th day” over the weekend.

My friend is still overwhelmed with grief. She functions for a while, as a wife and mom and employee, and then the reality of her loss hits her and she sobs. On Saturday, she was surrounded by friends and loved ones who held her, prayed with her and gave her Kleenex. Our society has a “built-in” arrangement for people who a bereaved. Funerals and memorial services serve the function of keeping caring people around the bereaved so they don’t have to suffer alone.

But it’s a funny thing about grief. We all expect that when someone dies, there will be grief. But there are other losses that cause other kinds of grief – silent losses, losses of intangible things, losses we experience but don’t label, losses we might sense but don’t officially recognize.

There is, for example, the loss of a dream. This can occur in many ways. It obviously occurs in the case of a divorce, the birth of a child with special needs, or the loss of a job. But it also occurs when you simply come to the realization that life is not going to work out as you had anticipated. You realize that your mother, your father, your children, your spouse, your job, or even your faith is not what you’d thought – and yes, there is a loss involved.

I had a “happily ever after” in mind. That train has been derailed, and I don’t know what direction it’s taking me in now. Things I’d taken for granted now appear far from certain. The world is a scarier place than I’d thought it was. I feel nostalgic for a period of time that existed only a few years ago.

My depression over the last couple of years has had a strong undercurrent of grief in it. At my very worst, I have felt loss as keenly if someone I had loved dearly had died. But I haven’t had that kind of “obvious” loss, like the death of a parent, spouse or child. So there are no ceremonies addressing my situation. If anything, I have been encouraged to just buck up and deal.

But I still feel the loss. And Hallmark doesn’t make any “Thinking of you as you’ve lost your dream” cards.


  1. Its funny/sad/ironic that the <3 didnt form a full heart (as it does on Facebook) but instead is probably closer to what I wanted to say anyway. Its like an incomplete heart, a heart that skipped a beat, a heart thats been broken and is so close to healing, but not quite there yet...