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The Importance of Grief

Part Of What It Means to Successfully Survive the Death of Loved Ones

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2003 By RDFollendoreIII

June 11, 2003

My Father was not in my life very much from the age of five on.  He came around twice after that, and when I was in the Army. Then I saw him once more. He was also the first of my parents to pass away.  The moment that I heard that my Father died I realized the connection that I had to him. My first reaction was abandonment.  I realize now that it was not the kind of intentional abandonment that one is used to considering.  It was the kind that involves the loss of potential and the past.  I was a married young adult at the time and I felt the instantaneous loss of my childhood. But much more than that I felt the loss of the possibility that things in my childhood could somehow be made different and whole again.  I was therefore both tremendously sad and angry inside.  I say that I felt these things because I could not at the time put these feelings into words.  Even if I had there was no one to which I could say those words.  The Universe had instantly become what it always really was and I had become insignificant.  I had never really understood the simple core idea that we all become orphans if we are to survive.

 
As a senior adult I have now survived the death of two more parents.  My Stepfather died after a long progressive illness with Parkinson's disease and my Mother died rapidly shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.  With each of these last two events I felt much the same emotions as with my Father.  I not only felt all of the loss of my love, but also every bit of the potential loss and regret of what could have been and should have been.  I can not say that I have been a brave son through any of these experiences.  Some people seemed to be able to release their grief through formal ways.  I found that I have never been able to do that. I simply break down in utter depression and become unable to internally pick up the pieces. The World would be a different place. It is as though I become a hollow stone because I knew it was true that each time one of my parents died, I knew that I would never really recover from the loss. 
 
But the simple fact is that grief is not about recovery at all.  Grief is about living on with the absolute knowledge and tremendous regret that we can never go back to what was. Grief is the most powerful emotion because it combines all of the others.  Grief is an immortal emotion that can be personally devastatingly destructive to the point where it causes lives to disintegrate.  But grief is also the most powerful constructive life force that exists for changing human perspectives for the better. Grief is the only thing that forces the human soul to look toward the good in this universe is the fact that we must not waste a moment of appreciation for those we truly love. 

The truth is that grief is all about the contradictions of blinding clarity.  It is the forceful gift of new sight. Grief gives those who remain and are not destroyed by it new choices for living, and it is therefore the successful at living who must find new ways to constructively grieve.  We never really control that grief any more than we actually control the inevitability of a river with a dam.  We are forever bound and carried forward by its force as though we are on its endless surface. In all of the ways that are important, we are exactly in that position.  Survivors of grief begin to understand that though this river to which they are forever bound does not allow us to control our ultimate path, upon it's surface we have the ability to choose our approach to its turbidity. Survivors of grief eventually realize that we all have always been upon this river and by opening our eyes, we now have been given a new degree of control over our lives.  The importance of our grief lies in its humanity.  

 

 

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Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved