As I sit here pondering the meaning of August 30th, as National Grief Awareness Day, I can’t help but think about the meaning of grief. I have been a widow for just over two years and I can honestly say that my understanding of grief has radically transformed. The ironic thing is that we, as mortal humans, are in constant relationship with grief. So why has my understanding shifted? It’s because my understanding was based on social ideas of grief and not reality
The expectations of grief and grieving are 100% influenced by social expectations. There was one a time where the would wear all black to mark their grieving period. This was not only socially acceptable but was respected as a cultural practice. Grievers would find understanding from perfect strangers in their community and feel a sense of connection in this understanding. I imagine as a widow; this form of grieving would have been a little less lonely and isolating which would create social connections. I imagine that the community would make an effort to connect, drop in and visit and even just simply show some care and concern on a regular basis.
In today’s culture, we seem to hide our grieving and shield others from the pain and suffering of it. We hide away in our homes, cry alone, put on a mask and suck it up to avoid making things uncomfortable for others. Generally, the community isn’t comfortable talking about death which creates isolation and a deep loneliness that aggravates the original loss as we lose our relationships and connections on top of our loved one.
Grieving differently has taught me that I can be a rebel. I can break the social standards and make my grief public. I can own it and not hide it. I don’t want to carry shame or embarrassment of my pain. The pain I carry every day is born of the deep love I have for my husband. I want to be a grieving badass! I want to tell everyone that death is inevitable and there is no shame in that….it’s a fact of life that we need to start talking about and be comfortable with. I want to create a space where all people can share their loss, pain and grief and feel connected and understood. I want to be part of a movement that celebrates life and all it has to offer by speaking our truth no matter how messy it is. Grief is hard. And it’s much harder in isolation.
I hope that you will also be a grieving badass with me and so many other wonderful people who choose to write, speak and tell their stories in hopes of changing our cultural expectations of grief. I dream of the day where grief doesn’t clear a room, but instead brings people together.