Last evening I met with two friends on Zoom to catch up. All three of us had lots to say about many things but as so often happens now, we spoke of Covid, vaccines and with caution – some of the disenfranchised losses that we experienced due to the virus and its varients. According to Kenneth J Doka, a grief expert, disenfranchised grief is made up of the disappointments and losses that are hard to acknowledge, when worse things are happening to others.
It could be things like: a missed graduation or a 100th Birthday party; no more sports for our teenagers; not getting to see our grandchildren or the once in a lifetime trip cancelled. There are other things like not being able to help a dear friend who is ill or a parent who died in long term care without us. And so much more. The slippery slope happens when we look around and see the truly heartbreaking loss experienced by some of our friends and family, and we feel like we have no right to complain. It is a bit like the conundrum between caregivers and the person they are caring for. The caregiver often feels like they can’t complain because X has cancer or some other serious illness.
This is why we must avoid unnecessary comparisons of all kinds. When we compare pain, loss, treatments, disease, or wealth and status…there is no end to it. The bottom line is, we all have sorrows and joys in our lives and we meet them where we are, with who we are, and with what we know. We get to acknowledge our own suffering, without the requirement of fitting it into a graph.
Sometimes We Need to Wallow
For instance, my teenage granddaughter was grumpy, miserable and very discouraged this week. With all the bad news of going into a full blown lock down once again and schools closing, she was fed up. Her parents weren’t thrilled with her attitude, but on second thought they got it, when she said, “don’t you see, I just need to wallow for awhile.” It reminded me of when she was a little girl and had a little pink cloth that she held whenever she was sad. She once said to an older cousin who babysat her, “I know you don’t want me to cry but I need to cry for awhile.” A few minutes later she said, “I’m done now,” and hopped down from her chair and started playing.
There are times when we all need a pink cloth and a little wallowing time. We don’t need to worry that we are turning into the whiner or complainer. We are simply acknowledging that life currently feels the pits. Be careful of the expression, “at least.” I don’t find it helpful and it risks being dismissive of the person who is suffering. That person might even be you. We are allowed our own wallowing time, and when we are ready, we get back up and move along, with an awareness that we also have things to appreciate.
One of my friends suggested that when we go through difficult times we all need to have something to look forward to. She thanks her visa card with every purchase, because she is accumulating points to fly out west in August, to see her beloved family. Her visa card now brings her joy because she thinks ahead to that trip. Of course, the trip may be cancelled because of Covid. Still, she has the joy of planning it now.
While firmly planted in the present, it is good to have some dreams. Something to plan. Something to work towards, especially when the situation we find ourselves in can be discouraging. We mostly do our best to recognize the privileges we have, and when the time comes where we need to wallow for a bit, we meet that unwanted guest at the door and allow the visit. It won’t be permanent. We were made to handle this universality of loss. It comes right along with all the love, joy, meaning, purpose and adventures of a full life. Never forget that we have what it takes and we have each other, whoever those beautiful others are in your life.
Note 1:) “When sad cry; walk; read; reach out to others; help others; and don’t forget humour” Jim Button
Note 2:) I send spring greetings to you all: stay safe, enjoy the unfolding of spring and find ways to enjoy each other’s company, whether together or apart.
Note 3:) Thank you for coming by. It will be April when we meet again. Warmest wishes, Trudy