Grief Caveats - Don't Be Outside Our Boxes, Please

"mellehcimb" is a blogger that I have been reading recently... her blog is full of her beautiful poems. Her blog cycles over the sacred grounds of her mourning. Her fiance', Nelson James, succumbed to sudden cardiac arrest in November 2009. She is mourning his loss, trying to pick up the pieces, and figure out where to go from here.

She writes a list that I think gives insight into the specific challenges that a "never married" in a faith community has in grieving... a high view of the institution of marriage can equal a low view of grief:

1) Don't tell me we might have/would have broken up. Our mutual love is one of the things I've still got.

2) Don't tell me I'll find someone new. It's not a breakup. We loved each other deeply. When he passed, we were planning on soon being engaged. See above. Our mutual love--and the memory of that-- is one of the few things I've still got.

3) Don't tell me I'll eventually be ready to find someone new, find new love, etc. I really don't care. I found the real thing, I found the man I wanted to get married to, and he died. Whether I get married now, ever, or not, I don't care--indefinitely.

4) Don't tell me I need to move on. It hasn't even been a month yet since his death. From all accounts, the first year is very hard, especially for widows, which I might as well be (albeit not legally).

5) Don't be afraid of mentioning him. I want you to mention him and tell me your memories. They are all precious to me.

6) Don't tell me I need to take, or increase, my psychopharmaceuticals. I can manage that myself.

7) I am coping as best as I can. Please spare me your advice on how I need to cope better. I can walk, I can drive, I can see without double vision. I'm doing much better. Right now I am focusing on getting through one day at a time.

8) Don't tell me it was God's will as if that will make me feel better. I wrote my thesis on the subject. I've probably pondered the issue more deeply than you have. God's will governs all things. Telling me so isn't really going to be helpful.

9) Don't tell me you understand because you lost your mother/father/sister/brother/friend/etc. It's not the same. Or at least, if you do, don't use that as your excuse to give me advice about it. If you use your experience to empathetically listen, though--that's good.

10) The Biblical saying that we are not to grieve as those without hope (1 Thess 4:13) does NOT mean that we are not supposed to grieve. Got that? If you want to get into an exegetical argument with me on that passage, bring it.
11) I believe he is in heaven. I believe he is praying for me. I pray for him. I talk to him. That mitigates the agony. But telling me, "At least he's in heaven now" is not going to make it go away. It's grief. It hurts.

12) Don't tell me I need to a) move on, b) move on faster, c) get over it, c) get over it faster, or ask me, at any point in the indefinite future, if I'm still grieving. I'm on grief's timetable, not yours--not even on mine. “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:18) I am being brought where I did not wish to go. Any assertions as to the slowness of grief's timetable, or questions thereunto, are manifestly unhelpful.

13) Don't assume that because I laugh, or smile at something, that it means I'm not grieving. It just relieves the pressure for a second. It's always there.

14) Don't tell me that, because I'm suffering, I need to see a doctor, or a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, or any other such professional, or ask me when I'm going to do so. Please assume I've got that covered.

15) Don't extrapolate your experience with grief, or your friend's, or your family's, onto my own. You may have handled your grief by a) throwing yourself into work, b) retreating into a little cave and shutting yourself off from everyone, c) needing antidepressants or sedatives, or needing the doses raised, d) or buying a farm and raising llamas. Everybody grieves differently. Don't assume that because I'm not grieving your way, I'm not grieving right.

16) Don't assume that because I'm grieving, I want to be left alone. Apparently that's not how I roll. Please call me. Please come over. It's hard to make calls, and it's hard to reach out to people, but when people reach out to me, I really appreciate it. The love and support of my friends and family is helping me get through/survive this.