I wanted to respond a little further to one of my friend, Sam’s questions. He asked me, “Can grief change you into a better person?”
This actually is similar to a very common theme, which is to make the best out of a terrible situation, to find something good to come out of the “wreckage of grief.”
When I was grieving, I often heard comments and received messages from well-meaning people how “many people go on and do something beneficial” as a result of their grief.
Statements like this contain such a natural and honest wish. After eighteen years on my grief journey, I certainly understand where it is coming from. It is a statement made out of a desire to help someone who is grieving feel better about how they’ve handled their situation.
It is also a logical extension of making sense and giving meaning to something that cannot be explained.
I know this certainly sounds like something that is positive and kind. However, for someone who is in deep bereavement, it is not.
I realize that I’ve written before and explained what is most helpful to someone grieving. I can easily articulate this with the perspective of someone who has suffered with grief.
This message wasn’t comforting for me while I was grieving!
Here is why:
When I was suffering with grief, I didn’t want to hear whether anything “good” came out of any person’s death. At that moment in time, all I wanted was for my son to come back to life!
Feeling that something “purposeful” could come out of his death would be to acknowledge something selfish. I didn’t want to there to be any purpose or benefit to his death! It was inconceivable.
When I was grieving and in my deepest pain, there was only one thing I hoped for besides wishing my child could come back. It is very difficult for me to acknowledge what I consider my greatest achievement.
It would be SURVIVAL. For people who are deeply suffering, that is a huge achievement!
SURVIVAL doesn’t sound like much.
Yes – many people are able to go on and memorialize their loss with great achievements. They might even become a better person as a result of their grief.
But for someone who can barely get through the day, all they want to know is this: How can I survive this pain?
It’s easier to survive the pain when it’s acknowledged for what it is.
It’s more helpful to tell someone grieving how much you realize they are suffering and how sad it is that their loved one is gone. And of course, that’s another opportunity to mention how special their loved one is and was.
Believe me, people who are grieving and suffering would like to know there could be something purposeful from their loss LATER ON – once they’ve processed and accepted that their loved one is truly gone.
For me personally, I am grateful for the beautiful things that have resulted from my eighteen years of pain. For all the many, positive things that came out of Jason’s life and death, I am thankful.
However, I still believe my greatest achievement was my SURVIVAL.
That was the hardest thing of all.
The fact that I can share my experience through writing and music is easy compared with that.
A poem below that I wrote when I was deeply grieving:
I go through each day
wanting to pretend it never happened
sometimes imagining you never were here
and how it never ended
But I keep feeling it’s not quite right
and then I remember the nightmare.
Before the nightmare
each day began with you
the sun rose and set with you
and now the sun has set
I’m waiting for the darkness to end
I’m wishing you could shine a light for me
I’m blinded with pain
it’s impossible to pretend
it’s unbearable to be so alone
I know that someday there will be a sunrise
And until then I just . . .
go through each day
I remember there was sunshine once
when I had you
But then I remember . . .
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
You’re so clear Judy on how deep grief can be. I can see how important your feelings are and how much your first child meant to you. I wish we could have somehow spent more time together through the years, so you would not have had been so alone. I care for you and love you deeply.
Joni, thank you for such a caring message; I am so blessed! Sadly, I suffered in a way where it was not possible for anyone to understand. Even if you had been able to be more available, unfortunately, I would have retreated. It was very hard for me to be with anyone during that difficult time. Just knowing how much you cared about me is what’s important. It makes me feel so glad I am healed now – because I appreciate you so much! I love you, Jude