Grief and Mirrors

I do not like the word grief. I do not like the word grieving. Both words seem to imply that I am someone to be pitied. Having a loved one die does not make me pitiful. At a time when I need the most comfort it seems another label has been cast on me that is not appropriate. I am not sure what word should be used, but for now I prefer mourning.

I am going to list phrases others say I am uncomfortable with and why:

I am so sorry:  I wonder to myself what they are sorry for. They had no say over whether my husband lived or died.

Sorry for your loss:  Another term that bothers me. My husband is not lost, he is dead. If he were lost I could go out and look for him, find him and bring him home. That is not possible.

My sympathies:  What exactly is a sympathy, another form of pity?

He is no longer with us: Then where is he so I can go get him.

At least he is not suffering anymore:  How do you know he was suffering? I was with him 24 hours a day and he was in pain, but never suffering. And given the choice of living with suffering or dying, my husband would choose to live.

He is in a better place:  How do you know where he is? And if it is a better place, should I throw my life away to join him?

There are no nice words to express our condolences for someone who has a loved one die. Even the word condolences does not seem like the proper word. But it seems to express a little more compassion than the others expressions I have used as examples. I probably have used all the terms above myself at one point or another to tell someone how sad I was about the death of their loved one. I never realized how little those words probably mean to the person who is mourning.

I have a hard time hearing the expressions I mentioned. How am I to respond? If I say thank you, it seems strange I would thank someone for my husband’s death. With being uncomfortable with all of these words, I normally just say, “it is okay” or “it was expected but still a shock it came so soon”. Even my answers are lame. They sound as if I do not care. They do not reflect the sadness I feel. The emptiness. Much like illness, when someone dies, there is a sadness encompassing the whole body and mind.

Then the uncomfortable wording I have to use to tell someone of my husband’s death. I say he died. People look shocked. Some close to me suggest I say he passed. My answer to them is “Passed what? A McDonald’s? Gas?”. They are not amused. I am not trying to be funny. I am trying to point out a simple fact. There is no glossing it over. I am not a child that needs to be told of death in simple terms or terms that make death like cotton candy and clouds. My husband died. Yes, it sounds harsh, but it is the easiest, simplest way to tell the truth of what happened. If I were talking to a child I would soften the way I told them, but I am talking to adults. They are probably as uncomfortable about death as I am.

Death is a part of life my father told me as he was dying. He was right. If we are to live at some point we will die. It is what we do between birth and death, that is where we need to live life to the fullest. Enjoy every minute. Death will come soon enough, too soon for some, not soon enough for others. Not my feelings, but feelings of those who do not want to die and those who have suffered and are ready to give up. As for the expressions people use, I will have to learn to live with it. Be more accepting of their inability to find words of comfort, which is what their intentions are. If I cannot think of a proper term, I should not expect anyone else to. As for how I express myself to others, I need to find a better way. I do not want to give the hollow sounding I am sorry to anyone. Though I do not like the words grief and grieving, it is what I am going through in my own way. I want to learn how to live again. I am not ready for death. While a life with out my husband seems impossible, I know that one exists, I must find the way, no matter how hard. My husband would expect me to live my life to the fullest. I expect the same from myself. I should honor his memory by living my life to the fullest and be happy. Now I just have to find a way.