I’ve forced myself to do no work this holiday weekend and the title of this blog is close to a line I read in a fiction book I’m close to finishing. And it got me thinking a lot about grief.
Many of my counseling clients this semester have lost somebody. Sometimes suddenly, sometimes not, but the grief and mourning process can be complex especially if the relationship with the individual was complex.
I have found that a lot of my clients will have expectations about how they think they should feel.
“I haven’t cried” “I should be sad” “I should be xyz”
I think an important, albeit somewhat taboo thing, to talk about is how someone dying needn’t somehow make them more important in your eyes. The grieving process may actually be less about them and more about how now the possibility is lost that your relationship with them could be different.
I see this with the death of parents a lot: people saying to themselves some version of “maybe I could have tried harder,” but the reality is that it’s not a child’s job to forge a relationship with a parent. If that didn’t happen early in life, no amount of patience, overachievement, or changing yourself would change that.
Recognizing that you may not be crying because the person may not have left you with much to miss. That may sound like a callous truth, but it needn’t seem malicious. It’s nothing you have control over, and it’s okay to recognize you may be missing the opportunity of having a more fulfilling relationship with someone rather than missing the reality of who they were. And that takes time to come to terms with.
Just some thoughts.