Saying Things are Fine When They are Not

It seems to me that we might have lost our ability to grieve and mourn.  Most people spend a lot of time trying to get over tragic or difficult things that have happened. 

Common counsel from friends and family who have tired of our grieving and sadness is to ‘get over it and move on’.  There is a real problem with this notion.  Getting over a significant loss connotes forgetting. 

It means that we should go on with life as if nothing was wrong, shoving our anguish and broken hearts into the dark night, and burying it in denial. This inability to allow grief to process is a powerful force playing a major role in much of the depression and chemical dependence that surrounds us. It lies at the bottom of unresolved emotions and unfulfilled expectations that have been repressed in a desire to make people believe that everything is okay.

“Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o’er fraught heart, and bids it break.” William Shakespeare (on the death of his son)

It is impossible for wounds to heal by saying that things are fine when they are not.  Sometimes we have to be allowed to wail. The harsh reality of pain, loss, and suffering must be experienced. Lincoln understood this as he gave his address at Gettysburg. Whitman grasped it as he wrote “O Captain! My Captain!” 

Embracing sadness and loss, becoming acquainted with the night, and understanding that life will never be the same are the means for moving through grief toward acceptance.  And the goal is acceptance.


Discover more about coping with grief.

One of the most powerful little resources is a book named Good Grief, A Companion for Every Loss by Granger E. Westberg.  A cousin of mine sent it to me after my mother’s death in 1988.  

I have relied on it ever since and passed it on to dozens of my clients and associates.  It helped me understand that, in time, grief will soften.  We will recognize that life goes on. Almost unbelievably we move through the sadness into a glimmer of light.  Hope will return as surely as dawn gives way to a new day.


A Quick Guide to Rx for Grief and Depression

Both have similar symptoms. With new changes in psychiatric diagnosis definitions, the two will increasingly overlap.

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