Room for Grief

A lot of people who grieve are “treated” as if they’re mentally ill. Mental illness is one of the most under-addressed situations in the world. Many words should be written to help us attend to those parts of us around our mental, emotional, and biological processes as people.

But a lot of people are confused to believe that the inexplicable expressions of others are illness when those expressions are really the person’s best efforts at suffering (and usually and unfortunately alone) under a burdensome loss.

One of my preaching heroes said that because we love we are eligible for bruising. By bruising he meant loss. Love makes you eligible for loss. When you love, you have to let go of the people you love because people don’t stay. In a long-term way, people die. Being less fatal, people leave. People move. People move on. People move on from us.

All those leave-takings mean that we lose. And we adapt. But our adaptations don’t always engender our grieving. Sometimes we move on as if we were never touched by that significant other.

Grieving is the emotional work of dealing with a loss. We all grieve. We don’t all grieve well. Sometimes we stuff feelings about our losses until they get pressed down and cramped in our dark insides. We act like those feelings aren’t there. It’s easier. For a while.

And then we forgot those feelings. We live as if we didn’t love. We live as if she didn’t matter. We live as if he wasn’t important. As if that role was dispensable. As if that city was in a stream of places we’ve lived in and moved from.

And then love returns. In the form of a dream. Some reminder. Some moment. And we fall, or crash, into a fit that can only be explained by harsh clinical terms. We “must be crazy.” But we are not crazy.

We are lovers who lost and who didn’t learn that our feelings were important enough for a room of their own.

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