Grief Relief: Let’s take a class on grief

Published 11:35 am Monday, January 8, 2018

At some point in our lives, we have all labored over textbooks that taught us how to conjugate verbs or solve the toughest equations.  We were assigned homework and took countless tests and quizzes to show that we understood and mastered the concepts we were expected to learn, and we strived to achieve the highest marks, a testament to the fact that we were successful.  Through life, we struggled through coursework and were challenged by concepts that were difficult to understand, but with practice and hard work, we managed to tick off each subject and move on to the next.  But, no one ever thought to prepare us for the class on death and dying.

Truth is, yes, there are now courses you can enroll in that delve into all aspects of grief related issues.  You can learn about funerals and cremation, gender differences and spiritual issues as well as all the legal and ethical problems you must consider when death happens to someone you love.  But for most of us, our enrollment in the class comes from the simple act of living our lives and experiencing the subject firsthand without us ever choosing to sign up or without us willing to be participants.  Death happens all around us- to those we do not know and to those we love, and so finding out a little more about how death affects our selves and the world in which we live in is a class that we must all take at some point in our lives.

No one is asking you to raise your hand or volunteer to answer any questions in this class, but it is helpful to know that we must all face it and that there really is no right or wrong answer as to how we experience grief.  Sit in any grief support group and it will become apparent very quickly that even though they all share a few things in common, their responses and reactions to the loss they are experiencing differ greatly and that is what makes understanding this subject so difficult.

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A big “No No” is trying to compare how you are doing in your grief journey to someone else.  It is simply impossible to comprehend why something works for one person but doesn’t do a thing for someone else.  Trying to compare the way we grieve is like comparing apples to oranges – yes, they are both fruits, but they look and taste different.  Furthermore, what feeds your soul may require a little more substance and accepting that, and accepting your own journey, will be the key to navigating through perhaps the toughest course of your life.

So, because we know that life ends at some point and that we are certain to find ourselves grieving, it would be wise to educate ourselves on all things that include death and dying.  True, no book can completely assist us in understanding the subject, but there are materials out there that can at least validate some feelings or answer some questions we have been secretly harboring.  Additionally, there is no better teacher on death and dying than walking the path yourself and experiencing everything the course has to offer.  Death is a harsh subject and it is a professor that challenges us and threatens to fail us around every corner.  However, as most will tell you, even though the class threatened to confound them, they were persistent and found ways to comprehend the course material.  No, they don’t have a report card to show for it, but they do have the knowledge gained from having experienced a class that taught them more than they ever thought possible.  The lessons learned were brutal and heart wrenching, but they will serve to help them move forward onto the next life course that comes their way.