I was reading about Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) today--out of random curiousity and because I am always curious about what mental disorders could be lurking in me. Sometime last year it was added to the catalog of recognized psychiatric disorders. It is a very specific diagnosis and not meant to somehow make the normal process of grief into a mental health crisis; but instead to reflect a very real disorder that affects the grieving and impacts their daily functioning in a long-term way.
I don't think I have prolonged grief disorder, if you are wondering. However in my self-focused research there was one thing mentioned over and over again in layman and scholarly articles:
Our society, with its emphasis on achievement and positivity, makes it hard to grief in a healthy way.
After all, who wants to be the wet blanket in the room? Who wants to hang out with the grieving, sobbing bummer of a friend? And who wants to catch grief and sorrow? Best to avoid grieving and best to avoid the grieving, right?
Anyone who is reading this and has experienced a great loss knows exactly what I am talking about. I lost friends when my father died because they thought I was too sad and beyond redemption. I lost connections with family when my brother died because his story was too overwhelming and I was too honest with my grief. I know this is not my fault; but these additional losses do make the prospect of openly grieving much more difficult to face.
Grieving openly requires a certain level of not giving a fuck and also trying to find a sense of confidence that the world won't abandon you when you talk of the pain of loving the dead.
The truth is that some of the world will leave you--so you don't mess with their positivity and accomplishment--and that just really sucks.
But, friends, it is not a reason to stop openly and publically grieving. Death is bullshit. Losing a beloved human being is a load of garbage. It is enraging and heartbreaking and unimaginable and permanent and unchangeable and it is impossible to comprehend that people exist and then they simply do not.
I won't ever stop talking about my grief, I promise. And I want to hear you talk about it, too. This is not because I enjoy grief; it is because I hate it and I want it out of my system, even if just for a moment.
I will always experience grief when I think of my father and my brother. My brother's story is a particularly hard one. When I think of David, I think of how blessed I was to be his sister and at the same time, what bullshit it is that I am no longer one. When I think of him, I think of much I failed him and at the same time, how much I did him right in the end. And when I think of him, I often think of this Pearl Jam song, "Given to Fly."
Given to Fly is about freedom, I think (I don't know for sure; I'd have to ask Eddie V.). The last stanza:
And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky
A human being that was given to fly.
I think of my brother David like that--a human being free from the chains of his body and given to fly with all the freedom he deserves. Today, when I heard the song, I started to think about myself as that spot in the sky; and thinking maybe, just maybe, the chains of grief will start to loosen a little and I can be given to fly, too.
And I think I can be; and if you are grieving right now, I think you can be, too. We just have to talk about it. We have to be open and we have to find freedom to grieve, no matter what the world thinks.