2013-11-03 14.26.14Had breakfast at Waffle House yesterday.  Sat by someone that I didn’t know well.  We were at the counter because it was so crowded.  I knew that her father had passed away about a year ago. maybe two.  I simply said, “I am so sorry about your father”.  She replied, “I never know what to say to that, but thank you”.

I have watched a lot of people grieve.  Whether they are grieving the lack of something or the fact of something, the omission or the commission of something, it takes time.  Whether it is a death, a rape, childhood abuse or neglect, an illness, what was been done to them or by them, it takes time.  In fact, sometimes when you are grieving that you yourself have done something that you thought you would never do, the inner assault on your integrity is very harder to wrap around.  “I am the person I used to judge”, I have heard many people say.

We as a culture are uncomfortable with healing that takes time.  “That’s still bothering you?”,  someone might say after they hear a patient is still struggling with sadness.  Might not say it out right, but it is there in attitude.  People stop asking.  “You know, it’s not good for you to dwell on the past.  What’s done is done.”

I agree with those statements in part.  The dwelling part at least.  But it is a process.

I have used the analogy that grieving is like standing by the ocean at midnight.  No moon in the sky.  No light at all.  It’s high tide.  But you have never heard of the ocean.  Have no conception of what an ocean is.  Then the first wave hits you.  You do everything you can to survive.  Instinctively dig your toes into the sand and flail your arms around for balance.  Bam you get hit again, this time with an even stronger wave.  Gradually the waves recede and you feel more at peace.

But suddenly, out of nowhere, some random wave will hit you that seems even stronger than even the first.  You have to flounder around again and spit salty water out of your mouth because you had thought it was all over.

That’s how grief is.

We are coming into another holiday season.  Please remember that there are people that are grieving, either acutely or just have sadness in their lives that they find the courage every day to deal with.  We are all happier and healthier if we focus on the good things in our lives.  But we all deal with the “half empty” side of the glass as well.

There are people that are estranged from their families, that have been diagnosed with something that frightens them or love someone with a disease that is only going to get worse, that have experienced death or loss of some kind, that are struggling financially.

They are not feeling sorry for themselves.  Maybe a few.  Not most.

It takes time.  Please remember to ask how they are doing.  That question will mean the world to them.

Knowing someone remembers.  Even if they don’t know how to answer the question.



If you know someone that is actively grieving and my analogy might be helpful to them, please send this on to them!  And thanks so much for reading!!! Would love your comments!



You can hear more about mental health and many other topics by listening to my podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to my website and receive one weekly newsletter including my weekly blog post and podcast! If you’d like to join my FaceBook closed group, then click here and answer the membership questions! Welcome!

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