Grief

Grief is a strange creature. Everyone feels it differently. Nor is there a way of showing grief that is out of the ordinary. It is one of the few examples of human emotion for which there is no baseline.

There are many traditional ways of dealing with it. From the keening in Scotland to the second lines in New Orleans, every culture has an expectation for mourning. The somber Catholic funeral to the celebration of their life in an Irish wake. Some groups of aboriginals ban the use of the deceased’s name for a period of time. No group, no cross-section of any society grieves in the same way.

My personal favorites are the second lines of New Orleans and the Irish Wake.

No one should look down on another for how they grieve. But there are unfortunate expectations in much of my society. For women to weep and for men to be stoic rocks. There are some who sneer at those who act outside expectations.

Ignore these people. They don’t have the empathy appropriate to help you. Strangely, it also might be a manifestation of their grief. Just let their actions go.

Still, I found myself mourning in a different way when my father died. I found solace in remembering all the good he did in it. Even when we did not get along, I could respect what my father did with his life. I could recognize the morality of his deeds.

Dad worked in the Pharmaceutical industry. He had a Masters in Pharmacology and an MBA. Dad was in marketing, but also knew the medications he was selling inside out. He pushed some products for very personal reasons.

He made it a personal crusade to get a vaccine for meningitis on the market. That may seem like an odd thing to make a private cause, but I had almost died of that disease at eight-months-old. Dad never wanted another parent to have to go through the stress and worry, the continued uncertainty of long-term consequences, that my illness caused.

When Dad retired from working for more prominent corporations, he set up a consultancy. He would pick and chose who he took on as a client based on how much good the project could produce.

In a way, my grief comes from how proud I am of the moral man my Father was. He could be rigid and stubborn, even harsh. Still, he acted from a core of right and wrong that I cannot deny, though I saw it as strictly black and white.

In a way, most of my grief comes from losing that rudder of black and white, right or wrong, morality in my life. I am a person who lives in the greys. Not a criminal, but someone who recognizes that crimes can be committed from good intentions.

Did I cry over the loss of my father? Yes. Many around me, however, may have seen me as stoic. I was not. I never kept the grief I felt locked in. It was always there, from when I heard he had advanced lung cancer.

And it will be with me for years to come. What I did do is accept the grief as a part of who I am rather than vocal or public expressions, or rock-faced stoicism.

There is only one wrong way to grieve. That is to deny the grief or lock it away and refuse to face it. When you lose someone, that loss will forever be a part of you.

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