Every loss requires grieving. It may be brief. I had to give away 3,000 books when I moved from Phoenix to Shreveport. I love books, and I especially love MY books, each of which was selected or given to me for a purpose. Spending a lot of time grieving the loss of things, even precious things, cuts into my potential for joy, though, so I let it go fairly quickly.
Too often, well-meaning family and friends say things like, “It’s time you got on with your life.” Or, “Stop moping around and get out and do something.” Or the truly awful twin condolences of, “s/he is in a better place,” and “it really was a blessing.” Sympathy over a death, like memorials and funerals, are not for the dead but for the living. When I grieved the death of my mother, I knew what she believed about eternity, but it did not make me miss her one tiny bit less.
Far wiser heads than mine have suggested there is one necessary and sufficient thing to say: “I’m sorry for your loss.” It is recognition of loss, and a true expression of our feelings. Stop there.
I keep returning to the loss of vision in my right eye because I am still grieving. I’ve been told to be grateful that I still have vision in my left eye. I am. That’s not much comfort when I have to stop driving at night, begging rides to the symphony, the opera, meetings. That’s not any comfort when I pick up a beloved book and find that I can’t read it without the laborious process of using some kind of magnification, buying it again on Kindle, or ordering it on Audible where, 99% of the time, the reading is mediated by whether the narrator does a good job.
No fan of extended pity parties, I am most comfortable when someone says, as my ophthalmologist did recently, “I’m so sorry about what happened to your eye.” That’s it. We are sorry. Enough said.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not allowed to grieve any loss. You decide what it will take to complete your grief process, if that’s possible. That also means, don’t let anyone rush your grief, including yourself. No phrases like, “it’s been two years since you lost your husband; it’s time to….” It will be time when it is time.
If you are weeping and wailing and bitching and moaning to other people, that’s not your grieving, that’s your attention-seeking. Check your motives, as we say in AA. Work with a counselor or therapist, if that’s helpful, to determine what form your grieving can take that would be, in the end, most comforting to you.
Male or female, child or adult, loss calls for grief. Don’t put it off. Don’t rush it. eventually, joy does indeed come in the morning, usually in the form of dreams and memories. Cherish them.