Handling Bereavement

Death is, of course, very sad. However, life will always continue to move and progress forward; the clocks won’t stop ticking.  There is nothing that can be done about the progression of time. When we lose a loved one though, it’s like everything in our lives skids to an impasse. Yes, there’s of course the normal week or two that we would want to take off of work for the customary “bereavement” period.  That’s typical.  In spite of this, sometimes people who lose  loved ones, I’ve noticed, still struggle with their losses, even after the bereavement period.  I’ve seen certain individuals become depressed, less talkative, more anxious, manic, anorexic (the symptom, not the disorder necessarily).  And this is all the result of facing mental suffering due to death.

Some people, even so-called “friends,” are not very sensitive to your condition the more time passes.  I know it from personal experience and from seeing others go through it, too.  If a grieving person returns to work after her bereavement period, and she still appears to be in mourning with an array of physical and mental symptoms, some co-workers are likely to tell her, “YOU GOTTA GET OVER IT ALREADY!”  I absolutely HATE, HATE, HATE the expression “get over it” or “move on” when referring to death.  A man who just loses his high school sweetheart wife of 50+ years does not want to be told to move on, since he would probably feel like he’d be betraying her and foiling her memory if he did just move on.  I don’t know how that expression came about, but I honestly think it is one of the worst.  It doesn’t make anyone feel better about absolutely anything.

I was listening to a talk-radio show yesterday and it was by pure chance that I got my answer!  I had been looking for a new way to tell someone to “progress forward” in his/her life without saying “move on.”  It’s an awful statement.  I’d think it would make the person feel as if he was being told to betray and/or forget the loved one that he just lost.  When I was driving in the car, I heard the radio host, who’d lost a close friend a few days ago, use the expression to branch out, right in the same place where move on could have been.  And I thought, wow, that’s perfect!

I love to think visually.  I think maybe deep down we all do and some people might not like to admit it.  Nevertheless, if you were to hear someone saying “…in an effort to branch out,” I would think of a big tree, one that is still growing.  The term itself is a bit vague, but that is good, so you can make up your own details in your head.  Further, you have a big and strong stump at the bottom of your tree — that’s like the foundation or base of your life.  After I had the new expression in my mind, I thought that all the memories of the loved ones lost would be stored in the base/stump of the tree.  Therefore, with this expression, I progress in life while still keeping a firm hold of my loved one’s memory.  Moreover, you then grow your branches outward overlooking the land, to see where you might like to go possibly or who you might like to meet next.  To branch out means doing things you’ve never done before, thinking in different ways, and just basically keeping your mind open.  All the while, you’ve still got a firm grasp on the thoughts and memories of loved ones lost inside the tree.

That’s how I thought of the expression to branch out.  This certainly is a semantic solution to a big semantic problem.  I’d been looking for a way to influence people NOT to tell others to move on, especially in cases of death.  Nobody wants to hear it.  Most of all, I think it’s actually rude.

God bless you all.

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