To be “bereaved” literally means “to be torn apart” and “to have special needs.” The definition could not be more accurate. Grief appears to be a universal human experience, but it is also a social construct that varies across cultures and morphs through time.
I find myself struggling to situate my grief within the paradigm and expectations of our modern society. I see parents doting over their babies, lattes foaming, bouquets being assembled, clouds forming, leaves breaking off trees, cats stretching and everything ordinary. It’s amazing really. But normalcy is so bitter now. There is a missing link, a tension between my catastrophic loss and my return to the mundane.
Assimilation into normalcy is imposed on the bereaved much too soon, and without much guidance. I struggle with re-entry because I am unable to compartmentalize my mother. As time continues to separate me from her, I stare squarely at that day 4 months ago, experiencing an insurmountable pain and existential angst. The path of grief is laborious and thick like molasses.
Obviously nothing is the same after you experience loss. C.S. Lewis likened it to an amputation. You get sewn up, you’re still alive, but your life is completely changed forever. You will have to learn an entirely new way of living. I wish our culture fostered more time, space, and support while embarking on this recovery, so that we may honor grief’s “special needs” and healing, so that we may fully immerse ourselves in the growing pains and wisdom gains that come from such an enormous experience.