Good Grief

I never thought I could publish anything like this. At least not so soon in my blogging adventures. But good grief! Grief just seems to be everywhere these days. It’s also been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember, so here it goes. Here is my lovely tell your mother thoughts on the matter.

My first brush with grief was the loss of my bio father. While he did not actually kick the bucket, I never saw his face again after age 4. This was my first experience with loss. Around age 11, my bio mother was the victim of a murder suicide. This was my first experience with total tragedy, and to make matters peachier, I read about the details in the news. At age 22, the love of my life and my baby daddy met his end. This was my first complete and utter heart break. I can’t actually count the number of friends that have died since or in-between. This is where my immunity to grief was fine tuned.

When a close family member or friend dies you hear the words be “strong” and I’m “sorry” a lot. Even upwards of 15 years later.  Just last week someone told me they were sorry for the loss of my mother after they found me on Facebook.  I typically don’t say these things to people grieving. I’m generally pretty sick of hearing these things myself. However I don’t blame others; it’s just that awkward moment when you don’t know what else to say.

In my opinion, grief is not limited to the family of the deceased. Any loss of any human life is grievable by any person who is aware of it.  In many cases ignorance can be bliss. I guess that’s why a lot of people just don’t pick up the papers anymore. Maybe there are some assholes out there that don’t have an empathetic bone in their body, but I don’t know them personally.

I believe a community can grieve, a workplace can grieve, the extended circles of family and friends of the deceased can grieve the list goes on. Even the unsavory people who die, people can grieve them too. The fact is death and subsequently the effect of grief affects everyone. It makes us face our own morality. This is what is called being human.  What amazes me the most, in all of my close experiences with grief, is not that people die. Again I feel this is inevitable. Not even that people die tragically, or unexpectedly.  This too is part of life. What really amazes me is how the people around the dying or dead person, act, react, and respond to others.

I preface this by saying it is truly despairing to recount these two examples, as a female, a mother of a daughter, and of an orphan of crimes against woman. But this sadness, I am willing to accept for discussions sake.  A few months ago a young woman disappeared and was found murdered weeks later. Her case made national headlines because her disappearance was captured in part on a video tape. This happened in the region that I live in, and I have driven past what once was a memorial for her, that now is completely cleared of the tokens of grief and which now bares a for sale sign on the property. Even more troubling is that 2 days ago a young woman about the same age shows up in a river in a hockey bag in the area that I grew up. Tragic and disgusted does not begin to describe how I feel about either case. But in the second example the public did not even know the young lady was missing.

The main difference I have noted between these cases; is the parent’s response to the media and thus the communities affected by these tragedies. The first young woman’s family and community appealed to anyone who would listen- the message was bring her home. When the media broke with the story of remains of the woman found by a home owner the reports indicated that the womans was identified and that next of kin was notified, and that details were remaining confidential at this time at the request of the family. Subsequent stories reported around the issue and disclosed the identity which was met with grimaces from online communities.

My commentary with these cases is related to the role of the media, and in the public responses by the families of the dead. These two communities in the same province were not permitted to grieve in the same manor for the loss of 2 young woman who were victims of severe acts of violence. This is in our own communities, outside of the urban centers, where people suspect these things are supposed to happen.  The parents who appealed shared their grief with the community and allowed them to be concerned about their own mortality and the mortality of others. The parents who have not, instilled fears for those who are informed yet remain uncertain.

My mother had cancer before she die. After reading the headlines I pieced together what happened, that her cancer medication Oxytocin was the catalyst for the end for the Romeo and Juliet junkies. I say this with every bit of love and respect for my birth mother. But facts are facts. After years of abuse, this stuff put them over the edge.  Just before my mother’s death I was rejected by my family and placed in foster care. It was like they knew the end was coming and removed me from reminding them of how horrible things went. My family scapegoated me.

When David died I read a small article that stated a man was found dead outside of Calgary. We lived at least 2.5 hours away. The article did not paint any sort of tragic picture, and it was more or less, something happened.  Coincidentally, my child’s father’s family rejected us both after his death. At least by a sweeping  95 percent. There was no thought that my 5 month old child was the last sentiment of his recent existence. I was hated, I was blamed, and I was ejected from participating in the grieving before, during and after his funeral.

In both cases, I had no role to play in the demise of the people I loved and yet I am somehow excluded, rejected, and sent off on my own with my sorrows. No worries I am ok. I made it out alive. But what continues to plague me is how people can do this to one another. When people die we should be clinging to each other.

Recently I have been scapegoated for grief yet again. This time, I don’t know the deceased. I know his sister. God love the whole family. It was unexpected and sad. I have known the sister for almost a decade. We have had our ups and downs. When I found out, I cried and wept and prayed. I went to my guru and asked her to send her lots of love and strength that way. But despite my efforts, I was 5 days too late in my condolences. I did not get the news.  So now I’m not allowed to enter the grieving circle. I am not able to support a friend that I have cared a great deal for, and went through a great deal with.  I am actually told that I am no longer a friend. The rational is, I should have figured out what was going on via social networking and showed up for the events like everyone else. It does not matter that no one shared this with me through word of mouth, or that my social networking feeds don’t always prompt you on the things you need to know. Or even that I was in touch with the friend and another friend who knew, just to say hey, and without any responses, I missed the grief train and now I’m just ousted, like I never cared at all, and like I have nothing at all to contribute in the department of helping others deal with death. The man who died I only saw once in Tim Horton’s. I just knew that he was my friend’s brother from pictures. While this news is sad it has nothing to do with me personally, I get that, but loss of life as part of the human experience, like I mentioned in this article, affects us all. Losing a friend because I didn’t know about the death sure as hell does.  But what the hell can I do now? Nothing at all. I can only hope they all get through without me. I can only worry about what I can control.

And I can’t, never could, and never will control over how other people deal with their grief.  But maybe this article may influence anyone who reads it – in their responses to others around grief.

Death is tragic. The media plays (or sometimes does not) play a part in how people find out and engage with the death either by themselves or as part of community.

For the love of good grief- when I die- please do not have a funeral. Please just party.  Don’t be mad at anyone for showing up, or not showing up or for whatever.

Let the love, laughter and light flow.

In thoughtful and loving memory of those loved ones lost.

About lovelytellyourmother

CEO of A-Team Inc. Smart. Brave. Kind.

Posted on May 30, 2012, in Passion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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