Don’t Hurry My Grief

I don’t get why people want me to move on from childless grief. ‘We just want you to be happy,’ they say. Apparently, in their eyes, me being ‘happy’ means not grieving and probably forgetting about being childless as well.

I have a few problems with this. 

First of all, what makes you think I’m not happy? Because I’m grieving? Grief and joy can coexist. I can be truly grateful for what I have, while simultaneously mourning for what might have been. The two are not mutually exclusive. 

Grief and joy can coexist.

But that is one of the misconceptions about grief. Society sometimes thinks that a grieving person cannot and will not experience joy. Yes, sometimes grief is in your face, screaming louder than your thoughts, dragging you deep into despair. But at other times, grief is like the uninvited part guest, sitting quietly in the corner, watching your every move. It doesn’t get in your way—but it doesn’t leave either. 

I can have good days, and even moments of ecstasy, while still feeling the grief. It may fade into the background, but it never truly disappears. And you don’t ‘forget’.

Second, who said I had to ‘move on’ from grief as though it had a use-by date? Some forms of grief are long-term, and some may even be lifelong. To deny grief is to prolong it. The only way to heal it is to feel it, painful though it may be. 

Who said I had to ‘move on’ from grief as though it had a use-by date?

We, as a society, are not especially good at sitting with grief. We are experts at distraction, hurry and an appearance of busyness. We seek pleasure and gratification, and avoid that which is painful. None of these things are bad per se. But it means that when grief does hit, it can feel alien and overwhelming. 

We need grief skills. 

Third, when people say they want me to be happy, that’s actually about their happiness, not mine. They are uncomfortable with my grief. By all means, encourage me to find the joy in my life, but don’t make it all about your discomfort. You might have to learn to sit with uncomfortability—yours and mine—especially if we are to remain friends. 

You might have to learn to sit with uncomfortability—yours and mine.

In a world obsessed with doing more, selling more, fitting more into our days, it can be countercultural to even consider as foreign a notion as sitting with grief. But that is what grief requires. It needs airtime and attention, without being rushed toward some arbitrary deadline. It needs compassion from ourselves and others. It needs a whole lot of grace. 

Don’t hurry my grief. It takes as long as it takes.

How do you cope with the ongoing nature of grief? Do people ever tell you to ‘move on’ from or ‘get over’ your grief? How do you respond to that? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 

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