As you get older, and you experience loss more frequently, you still wonder, only now you're more and more thoughtful about your own mortality and experiences. Now you're looking at loss retroactively. It's a hard thing to do. On beautiful summer days it seems impossible that your time on this earth is finite.
Sometimes, feeling the pressure of society to "get over it," you learn to smile again, to carry on with only the pain hidden deep inside yourself. It's just too hard to explain to others.
Robin Lamb wrote here about a loss in his family that happened long ago. It was only many years after that things started to become clear to him about the impact of this loss on his family.
Here is Robin's follow up to his original contribution.
Then one day she had an epiphany of sorts. She was addressing a fairly large group of people when a memory from happier times dashed into the forefront of her mind and she knew that she needed to cry, right there and then. So she did.
No doubt this was fairly awkward for those watching, but it did make my friend feel a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She reflected on her spontaneous outburst and decided that rather than keep her feelings bottled up for the sake of propriety, she would respond to them in a way that seemed natural and personal.
“When I get these memories,” she told me, “it’s like my boy is speaking to me again. What kind of mother would I be if I shut him out now?”
Should mourning be appropriate?
Mum grieved. Dad worked.
A few months later, he had a barnstorming argument with my maternal grandparents and we were packing our bags for a move to the other side of the world.
Several years passed, and I never saw my father grieve openly for Caroline. I think he saw it as his role to stay strong so my mum wouldn’t have to so obviously display her grief.
But then the family cat died.
Suddenly and uncharacteristically, all that pent up sorrow and frustration poured out of him as perhaps it should have many years before.
Open mourning is natural.
Although the two examples I have presented here almost certainly don’t speak for all people, I do think many of us hide our true feelings when venting them would be more beneficial. We should never be afraid to cry, no matter what others might think. It’s our grief, and we have every right to own it.