Mark Epstein wrote, in
The New York Times August 4, 2013, about a comment from his mother as follows:
“Talking with my 88-year-old mother, four and a half years after
my father died from a brain tumor, I was surprised to hear her questioning
herself. “You’d think I would be over it by now,” she
said, speaking of the pain of losing my father, her husband of almost
60 years. “It’s been more than four years, and I’m still
I believe I understand how this lady feels. This article made my mind swirl
around me. I too have lost many people in my life. My parents, my step-father,
my dear Aunt Mary. My beloved husband John has been gone for almost twelve
years. As I look back, I realize I am no longer in tears about these losses.
But certain feelings never go away. My love for them will always be in
my heart…and overall I believe grieving is a very good thing.
Fortunately, I see John’s face, every time I look at my daughter,
Amy. She is a female version of her father…a comment she does not
appreciate nor understand. That is fine with me. I don’t want her
to know how this feels, at least not yet. Her turn for grief will come
soon enough, because grief is a very important part of life. We all have
to learn how to grieve and grieve in our own way.
I learned when John died just how difficult it is deal with. I believe
the most important thing I learned from grief was that I had to let myself
grieve. My counselor would always say I needed to make “Tear Soup”.
My tears would have to fill a bucket, or buckets, before the grief would
give me peace. I had to learn to face it, confront it and feel the pain
for as long as I needed to….in order to move on with my life.
The average time for grieving for the loss of a spouse is 7 years. Yes,
7 years. That means that the first year I was in shock. The second year
the shock started to wear off. The third year it wore off to a kind of
pain I had never known before, and the remaining amount of time I needed
to feel the loss, and let myself grieve. I know John’s loss took
me more than 7 years to get over. But I got through it. I don’t
really know how much tear soup I actually produced….but it was
buckets and buckets. My family and friends tried to help me. The comments
went from “You mean you are not over this yet?” (Emphasis
on yet!) “This is not healthy! Move on with your life!” “The
best cure for one is another one!” and my favorite “Don’t
be so upset. Now you can start a new life.” Someday I will blog
about the 10 worst things you say to a loved one after a loss.
I know these individuals meant well. But I realize now, they had no idea
about how to deal with grief and loss. Fortunately, I was able to ignore
them and give myself the luxury of my grief for as long as I needed. Dr.
Epstein goes on to say:
- “My response to my mother — that trauma never goes away completely
— points to something I have learned through my years as a psychiatrist.
In resisting trauma and in defending ourselves from feeling its full impact,
we deprive ourselves of its truth.”
I agree with him completely. I urge everyone to give themselves permission
to grieve for as long as it takes. Don’t be afraid of the feeling.
Life is too short to be afraid to be human.