If you boil down everything all of us authors have written about grieving, it boils down to one word–PERMISSION. The key to a successful grief journey is finding permission to grieve. The best thing to do with our grief is to grieve, but finding permission from ourselves and from others is not an easy thing to accomplish. We tend to think we should be doing better than we are, and the rest of the world seems intent on cheering us up no matter what it takes. Where does one go to grieve in peace?
We need safe places to grieve. The best thing I can offer to people in grief is a place where it is alright to mourn. No one will try to stop the tears from flowing, nor change the subject, nor try to “spin doctor” the pain away. Every person in grief needs a safe place to grieve.
And we need safe people. Those rare folks who will not try to change our minds or tell us how to feel but will simply enter our pain with us and try to understand.
I did not know it but I was being trained for my life’s work from an early age. There was a girl in our town named Alberta McBride who I thought was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was older than my fifteen years so all I could do was worship from afar, but I did a lot of that.
During her graduation activities, she was going to a slumber party with her girl friends, and a train hit her car and killed her. This happened in the forties. Back then, we did not talk about people after they were dead… that was a failure in showing proper respect. We certainly did not mention the name in front of the family. We locked folks in a prison of silence and let them suffer in the dark. The McBride’s walked into the grocery store where I worked and before I knew it I had said that I thought Alberta was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. When it dawned on me what I had said, I started to panic and would have run away, except Mrs. McBride hugged me. That was a shock because we did not hug each other much in the forties.
The McBride’s started stalking me. They seem to be everywhere I was and even joined my table in a restaurant one day. They asked me to come by their home and I did so on more than one occasion. They would get the albums out and show me picture after picture of Alberta. I had no idea what was going on at the time. Now I realize, the only safe person in town was a fifteen-year-old kid who worked in a grocery store. How tragic.
It may be hard to do, and you may need to stay away from some very well meaning friends for a while, but the grieving process needs and may even demand that you find safe places and safe people. There will be plenty of time to make up with the friends that can’t understand why you are not depending on them for support, but right now, the most pressing need you have is permission to deal with the whatever feelings, thoughts, angers, frustrations, and pains you have in a safe place among safe people.
Copyright Doug Manning of In-Sight Books, Inc. Doug’s books, CDs and DVDs are available at www.insightbooks.com. Post originally published on Doug’s Blog at The Care Community www.thecarecommunity.com.
Updated: August 31, 2015