Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Learning from the commonality of grief

Interesting stuff recently on the Good Funeral Guide, about grief, had me thinking.

“I’ve lost him; but we had a good life. Now he’s gone, I can hold that much close to me out of the desolation.”

Grief on your own can be desolating. Perhaps a shared grief is a less desolating pain?

Maybe dealing with grief, one’s own and other people’s, can sometimes move us gently backwards from the immediate pain to a position of acceptance, a wider view.

That distancing is not the same as avoidance; it could be a wider view than the immediate pain of bereavement. It could be, in a positive way, a possible easement. It could involve feeling a link to the generality of suffering as a constant in the world, and placing a single loss in that wider field.

People need to share their grief, and their fear of mortality, in some way or other, whether it's in a big wailing session, or by a restrained, oblique comment - or just a hug. We need to know that other people get how we feel. When they do so, it makes a powerful bond, and perceived break-outs from that bond may be harshly treated - that's what this GFG posting "altered identity" suggests to me. (Cursor over the title above will take you there, thanks Sir Tim B-L.) 

Those combat troops who return from a war have commented on the powerful bond between them, which comes not just from the dangers of battle, but from shared loss.

In a (happily!) more mundane way, perhaps funeral work can also move us gently back from the potential or actual pain of our own mortality, and the pain of those close to us, by continually making us experience loss as a generality.

In the same way, shared joy widens its effects on us.

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