Updated: Nov 15, 2021
Before David died, for seven years, he kept a nearly daily blog on Facebook titled 'Qi Gong Therapy'.
He had over 9,000 followers from around the globe.
Pahka was his alter-ego. The name came from his granddaughter, his daughter's first born. She couldn't say Grandpa and so what came out was Pahka. He decided on a spelling and proudly wore that moniker and adopted it as a pen name. The ambiguous grief he speaks of in this piece, for himself, was the separation from and eventual estrangement of his daughter, even though there were a few years as a young adult that she danced on the edges of a relationship with him.
Ambiguous grief is difficult because it is often something that cannot be seen culturally, as anything in need of a continual grieving. Think about divorce, estrangement, miscarriage, still born birth, missing person, M.I.A.s from wars...etc. Culturally we seem to have the attitude that, "You should just get over that! Move on! You can always...'have another child, get remarried, you might reunite with that person, no body...no reason to hang on....etc.' AND then there are the ones we are allowed to grieve...but not too long...it makes others uncomfortable when we stay sad.
So here is some Pahka wisdom with the kindness we need to give...to ourselves...and extend to others:
“When Elizabeth Kubler-Ross established the 5 Stages of Grief in 1969 she was not talking about the stages of grief for those of us who are left behind. Dr. Kubler-Ross was talking about the stages of grief she observed that a dying person goes through in preparation for death, namely: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Somehow this description of the dying/grieving process has crossed-over in our culture and is now applied to anyone who is grieving. We like it. We like it because it’s linear. It gives us a sense that grieving will come to an end. But this is not always the case.
Grieving is not linear. Not even when preparing for Death. It is circular. In many many cases, grief truly has no resolution.
Many of us will die without ever reaching Acceptance...
For some of the major losses in our lives there is simply no end. No way to fix it… No finite conclusion... No happily ever after...
Eastern cultures have an understanding that suffering is a part of life, but here in the West we prefer to think that suffering comes to an end, and that if we reach Acceptance we can ‘get over’ our losses.
But - telling someone they need to reach Acceptance is misguided.
It implies that continuing to Grieve is wrong.
It is kinder and more compassionate to understand that Grieving comes in cycles.
There may be long periods of time when we do not grieve at all. And then suddenly we may be triggered and then we remember the depth of our loss.
This does not mean we are Not Accepting.
It does not mean we are in Denial.
When we Grieve we enter into a state of Sadness.
This is not the same thing as Depression...
We need to understand that Sadness is OK. This is natural. There is no finite end to Sadness, especially when we lose those we love to Death.
But perhaps more difficult to deal with is when we grieve the loss of someone in a more ambiguous way - through a divorce or estrangement - or any unwanted parting of the ways.
Then trying to adhere to these 5 Stages of Grief can become a cruelty.
Telling people that they need to arrive at Acceptance so we do not have to witness their suffering is not compassion.
Some things we never ‘get over.’
It is perfectly possible to live with Grief and Sadness. And in fact, many of us do this each and every day - we live with our Sadness and we suffer our Grief in silence - knowing that others do not wish to hear about it.
They want everything to be ‘all better.’ Finite. Linear. Complete...
It is said that Empathy is what separates us as human beings from other animals.
It is our ability to feel for others and experience their sadness, pain, happiness, concerns, joys and sorrows that makes us human.
This time of year when we are all supposed to be gathering with our families and enjoying our intimate connections, we are surrounded by those who are actively grieving, putting on a brave face and fighting to keep the tears back so others are not troubled by their deepest sorrow.
It is a deep loneliness to feel we need to hide our grief from others...
We do not wish to talk about it out of fear that others will try to help.
They will talk about the 5 Stages Of Grief and want us to ‘not be that way.’
Sadness does not mean we are unaccepting. It means we are Sad.
That is not doing something wrong. It doesn’t mean we are Depressed. It means we are grieving. It is not linear. It is human. It honors the longing in our Heart.
This is perfectly natural.
It has to be Ok...
Do not tell someone they need to stop grieving. That is not a kindness.
Tell them you are sorry for their loss. Because this is true...
Some things cannot be ‘fixed.’
They can only be grieved.”