Good Grief

I am amazed at the response many well meaning people give a friend who has just lost a loved one. This was brought home to me again recently when a friend of mine, a woman in her late 50’s told us with tears in her eyes, that her mother had passed away that week. Another friend sitting with me immediately started in, “Your mother is in a better place. Where is your faith? Why are you crying? Your mother is finally free, She feels better now, etc. etc.” Quickly I stepped in and told our unhappy friend  it’s alright to grieve.  Even more, it’s a good thing to express  sadness at the death of a loved one. With that she turned to the critical woman and said, “I just miss her,” justifying her feelings.
What is it about death? Why do some people think that when a loved one is gone, even in death we won’t miss them and long for them to be here with us? The same woman who questioned the need for grief has a son who lives in another state. She tells me often how much she misses him, how much she looks forward to seeing him again. Did she shed tears when he left home? I don’t know. But it would be acceptable if she did. No one would question her faith. Faith in what?  That she will see him again?
I have faith  my husband is indeed in a better place, free of a body that no longer worked right for him. But I miss him everyday. Sometimes I cry when I think of him—even eight months after his death. Eight months really isn’t very long is it?  I hope nobody tells me I need to get a grip and get over it already.  (Over what, I wonder.)
I miss him even though Ill see him again someday. I will follow him. We all will eventually, but not now. And right now I miss the daily conversations, the sharing of ideas, the joy of sharing our lives. Don’t deny me the right to miss him, to grieve, to feel lonely sometimes. And don’t deny me the opportunity to talk about him and  smile and laugh at  good memories.  Death is a part of life. Let’s accept it for what it is.  My sadness doesn’t mean I don’t believe in life after this.  It means I don’t like this separation. It’s not a bad thing.  Try it! Let’s cry and laugh together.

Soon enough it will be your turn.


About Karen Hopkins

Karen Hopkins (1949-) was born in Los Angeles and raised in Martinez, California. At seventeen she moved to Talcahuano, Chile. After completing her university degree she worked in London, England for Pan American Airlines and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India. For twenty-six years Karen taught Spanish and English as a Second Language in a variety of settings including a private school in Panama, the "most remote school in the United States" in Ticaboo, Utah, the Navajo Reservation, and a teacher exchange in Hermosillo, Mexico. Karen and her husband traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Central America, spending many summers in the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala . Karen currently lives in Southern Arizona, near the Mexican border.
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