Saturday, December 15, 2012

The English language lets me down

I hate how generic the term grief has become. People apply it to relationships, jobs, cars, even guilty remorse.... everything. This bothers me because when it is used so casually and nonspecific we believe it to be the same thing and people who have lost children now get thrown regularly into 'grief support groups' that include the divorced and people that have lost jobs. My Mom joined one of these generic groups, and while she talked about her past divorce and other issues, she told me she didn't mention Perry. I suppose because at times it feels like throwing the sacred into the mundane. That's not to say that there isn't extreme emotional distress tied to these things, but when you lose a child you learn how unimportant so much of these things really are or that while a severed relationship is painful, that as a parent you would give almost anything to have that child still alive- laughing and experiencing life somewhere even if it couldn't be with you. That is love in a higher sense, and why the mother in the Bible was willing to give the child to another woman to prevent the child from being torn in two. Looking back at 'tough times' in my life, I can see where in many cases it was as much a matter of perspective being out of wack as anything really significant. The problem with losing someone you love, especially a child, is that your perspective isn't off, you have suffered a very real and tangible loss that makes no sense and yet you have to continue living somehow. My husband told me that after losing Perry he recognizes that there are many things in his past life that he regarded as so much more but now realizes they were just stresses.

I listened to yet another counselor at a SIDS/ safe sleep conference. For the most part, she was more insightful than average except when she defined grief she included all those other things that I look at in a very different light. As a grieving parent, finding outside help is hard. I wound up ditching a couple counselors that saw everything as equal if you felt it was. Because I knew it wasn't. The teenage girl that crashes her car will go on to find a new one, not so for a parent. No other child will be the one they lost- it's dangerous and unhealthy to believe so. The one my husband and I finally stuck on was a counselor who had lost her husband at a young age. She gets it in a way that the others do not. You have to acknowledge the immensity of the loss to be able to help parents navigate the strange new wasteland and help them to keep walking and looking for that green in the distance that isn't visible. If you spout textbook stuff, they shut down and now you can't help them really- positive thinking does not bring a child back, you have to wrestle with the ugly truth before you can look beyond the loss at times. I say at times, because you can't fix it, and part of the whole journey is figuring out what this new life looks like and how to incorporate the child who no longer lives in a meaningful way into your life so that they aren't lost completely. Because you might as well kill me than take my son away and whitewash him from my life. Most parents are like this- they safeguard the child's memory even as they begin to take a more active interest in life again.

To me I think our language is very lacking. There should be a word for grief that applies to people specifically that you modify based on relationship with the person who died- the same but yet different. Then other words that express a sense of loss, something to acknowledge that you can feel emotion beyond just sad about broken relationships and other significant events. Perhaps a different word for things versus people or relationships. I like the way that if you dig into the word love by the authors of the bible there are different meanings or connotations in the original word. People wouldn't argue that a verse is about remorse versus true grief in the bible if there were obvious meanings behind the words. They would think twice between throwing someone into a generic grief group who will only be hurt by the all pain is equal theory.

But instead, looking at the new words in the dictionary they are largely about technology. People seem to think they've already got all that emotional stuff categorized pretty well.

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