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> "what Does Time Have To Do With Grief?", grief article
Furkidlets' Mom
post Jan 3 2007, 12:35 PM
Post #1

Group: Pet Lovers
Posts: 1,208
Joined: 21-June 05
From: Canada
Member No.: 961

Although written for human loss, this article also applies to any type of grief, so may be of help to all of us here at LS. I know I can certainly relate to all of the views in this 'timely' article!

By Pat Schwiebert, R.N.

What does time have to do with grief?


Just consider how, in ďnormal life,Ē our lives are run by the clock and the calendar. Some of us have a clock in every room so we can keep close track of the time. Few of us have the courage to live without wearing a watch because weíre afraid we might be late for something. Time is precious to us. We live in a society that reminds us that every moment counts, and some of us are masters at cramming as much activity as possible into every moment.

And when we are grieving our experience still has much to do about time.

Time stands still.
When we are grieving we may feel like the rest of the world is going on as usual while our life has stopped. Just last week, after my friend died, I passed a neighbor watering his lawn. He seemed totally unaffected by, and most likely unaware of Sarahís death. How could that be? He only lives a block away. Didnít he feel the same shift in the universe that I felt when she died? Doesnít he realize someone really special is missing?

Timeís up.
Most people will allow us about a one month grace period where we are permitted to talk about our loss and even to cry openly. During this time our friends will probably seem to be attentive to our needs. But when the month is up they may be thinking, if not actually telling us, that itís time to move on, and that we need to get over ďitĒ. They want us to get back to normal. We may be surprised how many of our friends (and relatives too) will become uncomfortable with our need to dwell on our sorrow. They may not appreciate that it takes time to readjust our life to the loss. Maybe what they are really saying is, ďTimeís up for me to be able to be present to you in your grieving time.Ē Because of this we may need to redefine what is normal for us, and choosing some new best friendsófriends who are willing and able to walk along side us on our personal journey of grief, and who will allow us to determine when our ďtimeís upĒ.

Doing Time.
Grief may make us feel imprisoned in our own version of hell. We wonít like who we are. We wonít like it that our loved one has gone. We wonít like it that our friends canít make us feel better. We just want out of here, and weíre not sure we want to do the work that grief requires in order to be set free from this ***. Some of us will remain in this uncomfortable place for a short time while others of us may feel like we have been given a longer sentence.

Wasting time.
Though in real life I pride myself in being a master at mult*itasking, in the land of grief Iím much less sure of myself. I find it hard to make decisions because, in my new situation, I donít trust myself to make the right choice. I want someone else to be responsible if something goes wrong. Sometimes my wasting time is about not having the energy to get started. I am physically exhausted and my body refuses to make an effort to reclaim my former self. And I admit, quite frankly, that Iím not sure I even care enough about anything to make the effort. Whatís the use, since it seems like everything I love sooner or later gets taken away from me.

Looking back in time.
When we grieve we spend most of our time, at least at first, looking back. It seems safer that way. Thatís where our missing loved ones are. If we were to look forward, that would mean we would have to imagine our lives without those we have lost. And thatís what we arenít ready to accept--not yet. So we spend a lot of time thinking how we should have been able to prevent their dying, or wondering if we used our time with them well, as we remember the good times, bad times, silly and sad times. We think we have to keep those memories in front of us, or surely we will forget those whom we have lost.

First times.
It is natural for us to gauge our life after a loss as we anticipate and then go through the first times --first day, the first week, the first month, the first time we venture out in public, the first time we went back to school, or church, or work, the first summer, the first Christmas, the first vacation, the first time we laughed. These first times are like benchmarks, notches in our belt that prove we are surviving when you werenít sure we wanted to, or didnít know we could.

Thereís an empty chair at the table. Thereís the conversation that seems to be just noise, having little to do with the absent one about whom we are all thinking but not daring to speak. We still prepare more food than we now need because we havenít yet figured out how to cook for one less person. Sometimes the food seems to have no taste, and is not able to do what we want it to do--to fill that huge hole within us.

Time out.
Sometimes what we need to do is to take a time out from our regular activities to reflect on what has happened to our personal world, as we knew it before our great loss. To do so is not to run away from life but simply to realize that to act as if nothing has happened doesnít work. This loss is too big to allow us to pretend that it hasnít had a big impact on us. Itís in the quiet time, when we shut off our thinking, and empty out the chatter in our head that the healing begins. Others will have to be okay with our need to bow out for a while. Remember that during grief our job is to take care of ourselves, not to take care of our friends. When itís time to re-enter a normal routine, itís our choice what we will reinstate and what we decide to lay aside. Loss tends to redefine our priorities. What used to be important may not be as important now. And thatís not necessarily a bad thing.

Time heals what reason cannot.
In the end, time will change things. The intensity we experience when grief is new, where we can see nothing but our loss, and where every moment is filled with thoughts of the one who died will gradually diminish and become softer. Time forces the big picture of life back into our vision whether we like it or not. This happens in our lives all the time. Remember how when we first fell in love with someone, we were totally preoccupied with only that other person, until gradually a more balanced existence was restored. Or when we did (what we thought was) some terrible thing and we were sure everybody would never let us forget it, we came to find out a few months down the road that most people had forgotten the incident.

In the months (maybe years) following a loss, life will eventually start to re-emerge, and life on this planet will once again seem possible. This will not happen because we come to understand the death more clearly but because, with the passage of time, the unanswered questions will become easier to live with.

Time will not remove grief entirely. The scars of our grief will remain and we may find ourselves ambushed by a fresh wave of grief at any time. But needing to know the answers to the ďwhyĒ questions wonít seem quite so important as it once was.

Time is a gift that we have taken for granted. Weíve been given our lives one moment at a time.

This is good.

Peace to you.
Pat Schwiebert - Director, Grief Watch

"I dropped a tear in the ocean. The day you find it is the day I will stop missing you."


<div align="center">"Not flesh of my flesh, Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart - but in it"[/center]

~Fleur Conkling Heylinger~

>^..^< >^..^< >^..^< >^..^< >^..^<

"For one species to mourn the death of another is a noble thing"

~Aldo Leopold~

<span style='font-size:9pt;line-height:100%'>Life is life - whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man's own advantage. ~Sri Aurobindo

Spay now or pay later, the interest is killing us.

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