The Reality of Bereavement

October 03, 2016


If you asked someone how to get over the death of a loved one, they would likely offer the (not so) very helpful solution of time. I would just like to personally say that I know you mean well, but you saying that doesn't make me feel better (and it actually probably makes me feel worse). I am not trying to discourage you from offering comfort and support for your friends dealing with bereavement, but one really important thing I've learned in my studies as well as my own personal experience is that you don't have to solve other people's problems. Most of the time, if someone is grieving, the best thing that you can offer them is patience. They don't really need your advice, they don't need your pity, they just may need to borrow your strength for a bit.
Here's the other big shocker when it comes to grief: the 5 Stages of Grief are crap. Okay, not completely, but they are so generalized and stereotypical, and sometimes they don't fit. So don't get down on yourself if you are angry initially and you don't come to acceptance for five years and you are just depressed the whole time through. Because, fun fact, they were initially established to describe the process of those who are about to die. If you are diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer and you don't take to treatments well and know that your death is looming, you will be in denial. You will bargain. You will eventually accept your fate. (This is of course if you follow this process, which not everyone will, but I think people in that sort of situation are more likely to do it than me, whose sister suddenly and unexpectedly passed away).
I pinky promise you that I don't want your pity. I had a roommate who was jealous that I got so much attention from my church congregation after my sister died* but here's the thing: I would hands-down without thought trade the attention for my sister to have not died. My family did not ask for this to happen. We did not want this to happen. And we are doing the best that we can. I do not expect you to be able to put yourself in our shoes, because I honestly don't think you can understand what it's like unless it has happened to you, and even then, it can be completely different - just please try to remember that this is not something people will get over, even after a year.
I still think about my sister constantly, I'm still mad, and I'm still hurt. Everything reminds me of her. It legitimately feels like she just died a month ago. Healing does take time, like many of you like to point out. But people have been telling me that for the past year, and I don't feel like I have progressed much on the healing scale since then, and that makes me frustrated. So yeah, maybe in 3 more years I won't be quite so angry. And I know (believe me, I have already seen this happen many times in the last 12 months) that it is hard to be patient with me after all of that time. I don't blame you. Just please, for me (or whoever your friend is), try.

*not trying to resurface drama, just using the example in relation to my point

Yours truly,
McKay

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2 comments

  1. Dear and sweet McKay, let me share a secret with you, it has been thirteen and a half years since I unexpectedly lost my dear husband and Khadeeja's father. The hurt and the anger is still there. First I was angry at myself for not doing more to have kept him alive, then I was angry at the world at large and now I just feel angry at him sometimes for not being there, especially through the kid's adult phases of graduations, college decisions, careers and not so far in life, choosing partners. The anger and hurt always lurk in the back, and change shapes and forms. The trick you learn is to foil them and move on. Keep them at bay till you have the luxury to bring them out and savor them. You become better at hiding them from the world.I am saying this from my personal experience. My experience is my reality, and so will you form one with time. We all learn to live with our losses and create our own reality through them. Each experience is unique and there is no generalization believe me. I have learnt to treat personal losses with compassion and without offering cosmic advises. Be there for the person going through personal loss without judgment, timeline, or advice and let them figure it out on their own. Do not try to micro manage the grieving process. Love you and always there for you if, and when you need me.

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  2. I love you Mckay!! I know it doesn't mean much to say but I wish I could reach through my phone and give you a big hug, ya scrub. I don't even care if I'm too legit for you. ������

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