The madness about grief is you think you’ll feel better in a few days. Certainly in a few weeks. The average bereavement leave in corporate America is four days for a spouse or child and three days for a parent. Three days. That’s complete insanity. It communicates an illusion that’s totally detached from reality. At three days you haven’t even begun to breathe. At four days you are still in total concussive shock. So I suggest three months of margin and soul care to someone in grief, because it shatters that illusion and suggests an open space of time where real grieving and healing can begin. Begin. Because who knows how long it really will take.
This cannibalistic world isn’t going to say this to you, sure isn’t going to act like it, so allow me to say it: Your losses matter.
O what kindness we begin to practice when we act like our losses matter.
This is why part of my soul-care regimen now includes a baseball bat and plastic trash bin. Our neighborhood requires the bins provided by the trash company; they are large, awkward, and nearly indestructible. Which make them perfect for hammering on with a baseball bat. Loss, disappointment, grief, and injustice provoke anger, and you’ve got to have somewhere to take it. (As a therapist, I’ve found suppressed anger morphs into fear, which is no better.) I like to go out and give my bin a good thrashing when I’m in touch with the hurt and anger, the thievery and loss. (I do recommend closing the garage door if you can; you might alarm the neighbors.) We must do something with our rage. And let me add—of course you’re angry. Your rage is not a sign that something’s wrong with you; there’s something wrong with the world. In some ways, everything is wrong with the world. We’re often embarrassed by our anger, but it’s simply proof that our hearts are aching for things to be right.