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 The Weirdness of Grief

 

 

Our world now seems so strange and

 

A while ago, someone asked me, What

different. The things we once took for

 

granted, such as eating, watching

 

is the most common way that bereaved

television, going out, or even sleeping,

 

individuals describe their experience of

now seem so far removed from how they

 

grief? I thought for a few moments. It

once were. It is like we have to learn

 

was not, as I reflected, the words one

everything, every experience anew.

 

would generally expect –sad, lonely, or

 

The very experience of grief

 

unhappy. The word that so many people

seems weird. We seem to be on a roller

 

use to describe their experience

coaster constantly going up and down.

 

of grief was weird.

 

 

Margaret Stroebe and Hans

 

It makes sense. So much of the

Schut, two researchers from the

 

experience of grief is so strange.

Netherlands, describe grief as a “dual

 

We may

 

 

 

process” –mourning a loss even

 

experience all sorts of

 

Grief is a strange

as we adjust to a new life. I see

 

reactions –strong, intense

 

experience. That is

that duality so frequently in my

 

emotions that seem to

 

why validation is so

grief groups as people experience

 

wash over us in waves.

 

important.”

 

these twin mandates of grief; for

 

There may be times that

 

 

 

example, the widow who at one

 

at the least provocation

 

By

 

moment describes her loneliness

 

we cry. Other times, we

 

Kenneth J. Doka

at the loss of her spouse even as

 

may wonder why we are

 

 

 

she celebrates the triumph of a

 

 

 

 

 

not weeping or why we have not burst

first driver’s license. When we grieve

 

into tears. We may feel that everything

we bounce back and forth between these

 

is surreal –that we are going through the

dual demands. That, too, seems weird.

 

motions but strangely unconnected to

 

Grief is a strange experience.

 

anything or anyone around us. We may

That is why validation is so important.

 

struggle to find some meaning and

As we share our grief with others –

 

purpose in our life. We may feel like we

confidants, family members, counselors,

 

are in some sort of a fog. It may be3

or in self-help groups or as we read

 

difficult to concentrate or focus. Even

about grief, we realize that we are not

 

physically we may feel different –

alone in our experiences. That

 

somehow aware of every ache and pain.

knowledge may not make the experience

 

We may even have weird

less strange, but we do know that it is

 

experiences. There may be moments we

normal to be weird. To live life without

 

feel the presence of the person who died.

someone we love –someone who was an

 

We may dream of the person or hear a

important part of our life is weird.

 

voice or sound that reminds us of that

 

 

 

individual.

 

Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, Mdiv, is Senior

 

We may find that others treat us

Consultant to HFA and a Professor of

 

differently. They may seem

 

Gerontology at the College of New Rochelle in

 

uncomfortable as they approach us, not

New York.

 

 

 

 

 

knowing what to say. They may feel

 

 

 

awkward around us wondering if we will

 

 

 

burst into tears at something said.