GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO GRIEVE
“Oh come on, move on. What are you making such a big deal of? It’s only that you’ve broken up. You’re young. You’ll find someone else.”
“Be strong! Stop crying. Bear with the loss stoically.”
“Don’t sweat. It was only a job! They didn’t deserve you anyways. Get a grip.” And the list goes on…
How often do we find well meaning relatives and friends telling us that we need to move on, be strong, keep our chins up and what have you. Their intent? To help us overcome loss as quickly as possible – be it in death, broken relationships, laid off jobs, etc.
However, lets understand what it means to move on and also the emotion of grief.
Moving on does NOT mean forgetting, nor does it mean shutting out from memory what has happened. It is not the burying of the past and carrying on with life. Because it is humanly impossible to forget significant occurrences in one’s life. For some, death of a loved one is significant, for others ending a relationship, for still some, failure to achieve a coveted goal. What is significant for one need not be so for another and one of the most damaging ways to ask a person to ‘move on’ is to dilute the significance of the occurrence and tell the person ‘Oh! What’s so bad about that?’ Trivializing occurrences – however inconsequential they may be to you – is not one of the best ways to help another cope. But why do most of us do the above? Because we are terribly ill at ease with emotions. And to most, grief has been defined as a ‘bad’ and a ‘negative’ emotion. And don’t mental health professionals advocate that people ought to abolish ‘negative’ thinking and think positively. With these ridiculous ideas, people become afraid to emote and grief becomes something to be embarrassed or ashamed of.
Grief is NOT depression. It is sadness, which is healthy and appropriate. In sadness people appraise their loss and comprehend the disadvantages that accrue because of it. So a person who gave joy and brought pleasure to your life and who is now no more, can result in you feeling a void; in experiencing some emptiness in it. You will miss him, be sentimental about the good times, and reminisce about the bonds you shared. This is healthy and beneficial. It does not equal depression – where a person bemoans his loss and believes that life now is not worth living.
A defining aspect of being human is to be feeling. To be experiencing. To tell people to not miss, be sentimental or feeling is to ask them to be robots or objects.
The next question that comes up then is, how long can one grieve? Is there a time limit or a way to say that grief for this period is healthy and any longer than that, unhealthy? Thankfully, no time limit exists for grief. One can grieve for the rest of one’s life, being sentimental and wishing for the presence of a beloved, regretting the loss of a relationship or the un-attainment of a goal. There is nothing detrimental about that. Because as long as grief does not become depression, it retains the healthiest part of being human – being emoting!