Is taking time to grieve selfish? Is it a form of self-pity?
I recently visited an elderly woman in her home, in my community therapy role. So much had been happening in her world. During the weeks since my last visit she had experienced some serious health challenges, and her brother had died.
How could I be surprised that she had not managed to continue with the exercise and walking program we had started?
She was tired, heartbroken and wracked with guilt. She described herself as “full of self-pity” because she was mourning the loss of her dear brother. This had also reminded her of the grief she experienced when her sister died a year previously.
I sat and listened with my Whole Heart.
I was not there to offer solutions, to slap a band-aid over her aching heart, to make light of her feelings. I told her I believed it was good, right and proper to feel such acute loss and to express it. How else do we recover from our deep wounds?
She told me about her family, her ancestors who had migrated to New Zealand from an Eastern European country, just before the time of the Depression. She spoke of a grandfather who worked many menial jobs to provide for his family of seven children. Her parents also worked hard to raise her and her many siblings – a labour of love which she reflected on with great gratitude. She spoke of one of her sisters who had endured many trials and tribulations only to finally triumph – and she now lives overseas. She spoke with love of her own children – their successes and challenges.
In the telling, she called all of her Ancestors into that small lounge. I could feel them standing around her. I told her that I believed that talking about our Loved ones brings them close.
I can recognise the entrenched belief that being occupied fully, being accountable for every minute spent at the expense of any form of pure relaxation, has been ingrained in our psyches. No wonder, then, that this dear soul believed she was “full of self-pity” because her thoughts kept turning to those she loved dearly who were no longer here, in physical form. Because she could not do it for herself, I offered her the gift of my time, so that she could express what her heart was longing to share.
When it was time for me to leave, she hugged me tightly and thanked me for “just listening”. I feel I was the recipient of the greater gift. I heard her heart sing!
Do you feel taking time to grieve is selfish? Do you believe it is a form of self-pity?
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