Memorial weekend is coming to a close. It was a nice weekend for me—I led a silent retreat and then went kayaking with my husband on Memorial Day. It is a sweet holiday—a good reminder to remember those who served our country as well as others who are gone. It is an encouragement to grieve and to celebrate those who we love and have lost.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on a panel that spoke on the topic of Grief and Loss. The panelists were experienced in dealing with grief. Two of us are therapists, one is the director of Gilda’s Club and the other works with Live Hospice. We spoke of the difficulty of grieving one who has died but also of the applicability of grief to a much broader spectrum of losses—divorce, employments, empty nest, etc. We also discussed the messiness of grief. It does not follow a clearcut path, but is unique to each individual. Our culture expects a person to be done with their grief in three days. That is ludicrous! Grief can continue for years and a sense of loss can be with us forever.
The moderator asked us for a final word to leave with the audience. Mine was “grace.” We need to have grace for ourselves and grace for others as we grieve. There is no guidebook for grief, so we can let go of the “shoulds.” It just adds to the emotional drain when we feel guilty along with our grief. In addition, we have grace for others. Well-intended people can say the most hurtful things. They feel uncomfortable with our grief, so try to make us feel better. We can become bitter or we can let those things go and learn what not to do with someone else.
As we move away from Memorial Day for another year, we can carry those loved ones with us. And we can be a person of love and grace whether we are seeking to comfort another or are the one being comforted.