Saturday, 7 September 2013

James: Good Grief?

When a child dies, you will always be in grief. This grief will follow you to your own grave.

This society measures grief by negative emotions associated with loss and by the volume of tears shed, but this is not the only measurement of grief; sometimes grief is good, providing a constructive outlet for its relentless energy.

Personal walls make it difficult to gauge whether or not someone is grieving. Only those who know what loss is can measure grief; only those who have lost can see through the cracks of the thin veneer of normality that grievers put up in public.

It is easy to label the bereaved, to think that one person suffers more than another. Assumptions that one person's loss is more painful than another's are always flawed; each instance of grief is unique to the individual bond between parent and child. Simply because a griever isn't demonstrating classic signs of grief, such as crying or lethargy, doesn't mean they are not in grief.

Apparently, grief is never uniform, preferring instead to constantly fluctuate. While most days are unbearable, particularly immediately after a loss, some days offer respite. We might even feel happy, imagining our child singing in the clouds around heaven. Alternatively, we might fleetingly forget them, while embroiled in the here and now of our day to day existence. Even on days like this, Grief is energy is always there, thrumming in the background.

Grief can be masked through denial or personal coping mechanisms. It is no surprise that, on average,  parents of the dead tend to endure shorter lives than those who die before their children. Such coping mechanisms could easily take their toll on the living cells that trap our yearning souls; this is destructive grief. In many ways, such denial is a waste of grief.

The energy of grief can be harnessed and channelled into something worthwhile. When this happens, society often doesn't recognise this as being grief, perhaps incorrectly construing it as a signal of the griever's recovery; but there is no recovery to be found in grief, only change.

There are many examples of courageous individuals who have used their grief to make a difference to the world around them, often helping others come to terms with the same tragedy that they endure.

I suggest that an individual's grief remains constant after their child dies; whether this grief is negative or constructive is the variable. You will always be in grief when your child dies, but it does not have to be destructive. There is good grief and bad grief.

You can read more about James and his journey following the stillbirth of his son Ethan on his blog

1 comment:

  1. James, I really enjoyed reading this post and found it thought provoking.

    I agree that grief remains constant, I don't think my grief will ever lessen. But, day to day, it manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes in a negative way and sometimes in a positive way.

    Thank you for contributing this post to the blog.