Thursday, December 07, 2017

Grief and Grieving

It has been a rough year, Mom died in February, Dad in July, Cousin Bill in October.  It was a lot in a short period of time.  Looking back, I found that two of my great-grandparents died in 1959, both of my grandfathers died in the fall of 1977.  So there is a family history of people kicking off in groups.  

I thought I knew what I was in for, I have studied grief and grieving, I work in aging and end of life decision making.  It probably helped, because I knew from the indicators that the end was near.  Mom was tougher than you would have thought and defied the odds.  Dad's final week, was textbook, he was frail, he had two falls resulting in injury a couple of days apart, and he was gone by the end of the week. He always was one for following the rules.   

I quickly went through the motions when Mom died, and then immersed myself in work.  When dad died it hit me hard.  I had repressed mom's passing, not dealing with feelings by burying myself in work.  When dad died I found it hard to concentrate at work.  My emotions came closer to the surface.  I found myself getting emotional at home, on the metro and in the office. For several weeks, I was spending an hour a day in the office dealing with estate issues.  I am fortunate that my office is understanding.  

I have learned that it is easier to find people to talk to, than it is to find someone to listen.  If you want to help someone who is grieving, sit and listen - paying attention to what they have to say. Most people glaze over and change the subject after a minute or two. For some of us, talking helps us to organize our thoughts and make sense of what has happened.  

I have learned, that I don't know how it feels for someone else.  Each experience is unique. Cousin Bill's Son Butch said, "for years I have told people, I know just how you feel, and I was so wrong, I have no idea how anyone feels" when grieving.  

I have learned the value of honestly asking, how someone is doing?  Are they getting the support or help that they need.  

If you asked me "what can I do" you got a shrug, a couple of wonderful people found something that needed doing and did it. The neighbor my parents seldom talked to who showed up with ham and potato salad when no one felt like cooking or going for take out, will never be forgotten.   

I can grieve and do things at the same time, not everyone can do this.  I had no problem with moving on with the business at hand, while dealing with emotions, other family members couldn't move forward until the fog had lifted. 

I am doing okay, better each week. I am changed by this experience.  I have learned from this experience, as most of us will be.  

Thank you for listening, I just needed to talk.    


  1. Well said. My sense is your cousin Butch is very insightful. Saying "I know just how you feel" to someone who's suffering in any way immediately makes it about you and not them. Just listening is not an easy thing to do. (I'll shut up now.)

  2. Anonymous12/07/2017

    I might not always comment but I always listen.

  3. speak your mind, dear. I would like to see a pix of the watch you discussed yesterday, the one your dad owned, the one you are restoring, and why it is so special to you.

    1. Watch this space, early next week.

  4. I don't think it ever gets better, but it does get easier over time.

  5. Sometimes just a hug is enough.



  6. For once, I'm going to curb my tongue and join the silent huggers.

  7. that was splendid thank you for sharing this.