OK Not Being OK: A Different Perspective on Grief

I decided from almost the very beginning of this grieving process that I would be OK not being OK.  Because, you see, I think it's OK to grieve although most of the western world does not believe that.  After the funeral of your loved one is over, everyone thinks you should just move on and be OK.  But, in truth, you're not.  I've found that it's only after the wake and funeral are over that you truly begin to come out of what I call a brain fog and begin to mourn the loss of your loved one.
We knew that my mother was going to pass away at any time and even though we were prepared, we were not prepared.  If that makes any sense.  After a death, your body apparently has a protective mechanism that allows you to go through the following days on autopilot.  You get arrangements made and take care of everything that needs to be done.  And then it's over.  And you then find yourself just sitting in a chair doing nothing.  Nothing but thinking.  And if it's been a long process (as it was with us in a hospice situation), you are tired.  Your mind goes a bit numb during this time and you can't remember things you need to do or have already done.  That is what I did.  I sat in a chair for days.  I made myself get out of bed and go through the motions of life.  I ate very little.  My husband brought me food and I ate small amounts of it.  This was the beginning stages of grief; it was shock.  Even though I was  expecting my mother's death to happen, my human body and mind was not ready for it.
As I began to come out of my stupor a bit, I began reading all sorts of literature the church and hospice company had given me to help me understand my grief.  I also ordered some other books on my own and then someone mentioned to me that other cultures grieve differently than we westerners do.  It was quite eye-opening for me because where westerners tend to want people who have experienced loss to move on quickly, other cultures understand that the grieving process takes time.

In some cultures individuals mourn loudly.  Some quietly.  But always, mourning is an individual thing.  No one grieves in the same manner.  In other cultures family members and friends take care of the grieving individual for a long period of time.  They are not expected to do anything or make an decisions.  They are allowed time to themselves to reflect upon the life and death of their loved one.  And as I pondered this I thought, "Yes!"  This was exactly what I wanted to do.  And actually was allowed to do so to some extent.  But then very quickly I found that people expected me to be over my grief and back to my normal activities.  Why?  Because I believe a grieving person makes others uncomfortable.  They don't know what to say to them, how to treat them.  The only way to treat a grieving person is to acknowledge that they are sad.  Maybe not every minute of every day but understand that they are just really sad.  And if they are sitting in a day-dreaming state it is only because they are reflecting and attempting to process everything that has happened.

And so,  I am more OK with not being OK than others are with me not being OK.  And if they have never experienced the loss of someone close to them, they just do not understand.  And that's OK too.


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