Here’s some food for thought on this blustery Saturday morn: WE DO NOT CHOOSE OUR GRIEF. OUR GRIEF CHOOSES US.
Grief is not something that we intentionally create. Rather, it is the universal, unique, wildly unpredictable, and unavoidable internal response, experienced by humans in the wake of loss. There is a veritable cocktail of factors at play (nature of the attachment, current circumstances, coping mechanisms, past experiences etc.), contributing to the particular brand of grief that will arrive on your doorstep. And because WE ARE NOT THE AUTHORS OF OUR GRIEF, it follows, that a less overwhelming experience in no way indicates superior strength of character, any more than a debilitating experience indicates a lack of moral fibre. Your grief just is what it is. AND YOU ARE NOT YOUR GRIEF.
So please, let’s stop pointing fingers, and whispering behind cupped hands, that someone’s grief is too teary, not teary enough, too brief, too long, too loud, too dramatic, too stoic, too inappropriate, and all the rest of it. If we can afford ourselves and others this understanding, mourning (which is how we answer our grief, and exercise some agency) can be a less burdensome endeavour.
If it helps to keep things straight in your head, think of grief as Cato, from the old “Pink Panther” films - always there when you come home, but you never quite know what you’re gonna get. You might get off easy this time, but next time, look out!
Let’s all move forward together in kindness