GRIEF is like coming back from the moon. You never expect to go there, you’re changed by the experience, and only someone who is also back from the moon would understand what you’re going through.
P.S. (Privit Sayin)
I don’t know if you will be following the tradition or reciting Kaddish for Joan Rivers over the coming year, but I want to share something I’ve learned over the years. There is a sound psychological reason for allowing the full year to pass. In the tradition, it is said the soul of the deceased is sitting in judgment over that first year; in many ways, I’ve found that the judgment is on the survivor, as much as the deceased. But the lesson is this:
You have a year. Take a year, full and complete. FEEL what you feel. THINK whatever you think, you’ll sort it out. If you need to cry, CRY. And for heaven’s sake, if you need to laugh, LAUGH. That is, after all, your mom’s legacy. But don’t let anyone tell you any different FOR THE FULL YEAR.
When I said that we, as survivors, are as much under judgment as the departed soul, in terms of how we built our lives around that person is our judgment. When we lose a parent or a partner, we experience a disorientation, as if the ground isn’t solid. It isn’t. Our lives are built up on the support poles, as it were, of those in our lives around us, who support us. When one of those supports goes out, when someone we’re close to, that we depend on to be there departs, we lose a support pole, and the entire structure becomes wobbly, uncertain.
The judgment comes in how we respond to the missing support beam. How independently have we established our own support structure, in addition to the first and earliest supports, our parents and immediate caregivers. And in how well we have established the support of others around us, in our current day-to-day lives; when we fall down, and we do, each and every one of us, will there be someone there, to help us right ourselves, and rebuild the support that was taken away from us. The decision is rendered both in terms of how independent we can be, and how reliant our support structure remains, during the rebuilding.
That’s why coming back from the moon takes a full year, for us humans. Many people don’t realize the rebuilding we have to do, even those with major life changes thrust upon them by the experience of death; many people stumble through unaware and unprepared. Take YOUR time, for time is what is left us.
Grieve – remember, the process is composed of many and all different stages, those outlined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (they’re the same for the dying as well as the surviving), and many more besides. I have a feeling you’ll be going through all of them, and more, and many of them simultaneously over the coming year. Be gentle with yourself, and you’re allowed to tell people (1) that they’re intruding and (2) NOT to intrude. Including me.
You are in my heart, you are in my prayers, you remain in my thoughts.