Bereaved people will often find they are encouraged to ‘get over it’. Sometimes those who are deemed excessively grief-stricken will find themselves on anti-depressants even. Society allows us a little compassionate leave to sort out the funeral and any other practical details. Then we are supposed to ‘get over it’ and be back on form.
Some losses aren’t that hard to take. The death of an elderly relative or friend who had lived a good life and passed over gently, is not always that traumatic. We grieve the personal loss, celebrate the life lived, and wish them well on their journey. Such losses, along with those of people we weren’t so close to in the first place, it is indeed possible to ‘get over’ in a reasonable, socially acceptable time frame.
But what happens when it isn’t? The devastating loss of a soulmate, or a child, or of someone close who was far too young to be taken, can leave gaping holes in the lives of those left behind. When death is entirely unexpected, traumatic, brutal, or leaves too much unresolved, there is no quick and easy way of healing.
About a year ago, a friend of mine died. She was in her thirties, and left a husband and young child absolutely devastated. I’m still grieving for her too, quietly. I regret the things I didn’t tell her, and the things we weren’t able to share. Some deaths its possible to accept, others take a lot more getting used to.
For the sake of the living, we are supposed to put on a brave face, and cope, even when loss has broken us. This is a cruel nonsense, perpetrated (I can only assume) by people who have never been ripped apart by the loss of a loved one. Some people never form close bonds, or get a fair way into life before they lose their grandparents. It’s not an easy thing to understand until you’ve been through it.
About the worst thing to do to a person who is grieving is to suggest that they will feel better in time. Part of the point with this degree of devastation is that there is no desire to ‘get over it’, the loss is too great. Learning to live with the gap a loss creates can take a lot of time, whole ways of thinking and being have to change. The best thing to do is listen, let the bereaved one speak of their loss, as much as they need to. Let them tell the stories that make them laugh, make them cry, and share those recollections with others. It is ok to grieve. It is necessary, and it takes some people longer than others.
So do not demand of yourself, or anyone else that they ‘get over it’. Sometimes that isn’t an option, and there is nothing to do but carry the loss and have it become part of who you are thereafter. That’s a valid choice to make. If there is nothing to do but live with the loss, that should be honoured and respected. Some people in our lives cannot, must not be forgotten or let go of, and there should be no obligation on the living to ‘move on’ or ‘get on with their lives’. So long as a person is reasonably functional, no one has the right to demand more than that in the face of loss.