For some reason, a song made popular by both the Supremes and Phil Collins popped into my head: “You Can’t Hurry Love”.
I remember mama said, “you can’t hurry love
No, you’ll just have to wait”
She said, “love don’t come easy
But it’s a game of give and take”
You can’t hurry love
No, you’ll just have to wait
Just trust in a good time
No matter how long it takes.
It felt pretty obvious that the same thing applies to grief.
We grieve over many things: the death of someone we loved, the loss of a job or a home, the end of a wonderful experience, the breakup of a relationship. We grieve for the obvious reason that we loved that person or that time in our life. Everything, no matter how special, comes to an end.
But that doesn’t mean we’re prepared or happy about it or even accepting. We become experts at denial and avoidance. We pretend the loss didn’t happen and we pretend we’re fine. We’re not fine. We’re the opposite of fine.
So why all the avoidance?
That’s pretty obvious, too: people don’t like to be sad. And grieving is just about the saddest thing you can experience. We try to rush through it. We encourage others to move on, to get over it. We set arbitrary time limits. All because we don’t want to be sad.
Well, hell, who wants to be sad? Who wants to cry at the drop of a hat? Not many people, that’s for sure. But people seem to accept other emotions – even anger – much more easily than sadness.
I cancelled a lunch with a friend recently because it was one of those days when I was just too sad. I was pretty sure that I’d start crying at the restaurant, which would add embarrassment to all the other emotions. But I didn’t admit it.
We rescheduled, and when there was a pause in the conversation, I told him the real reason why I cancelled. His face fell, and I realized two things immediately. First, his feelings were hurt that I thought he would only want to see me if I was in a good mood. And second, it proved that I’d been pushing other people away, too, friends who wanted to share my grief.
I hope you’re blessed, as I am, to have friends who want to grieve with you. They’re the ones who text or email you – “How about lunch tomorrow?” – when you least expect it. They’re the ones who listen patiently and are generous with hugs. One thing they will never say is “Aren’t you over that yet?” That’s because they’ve been where you are now.
So, I’ve resolved to do a few things. I’m not going to ‘hurry’ the grief for my mother. I’m going to let people join me on this journey. And I’m going to reach out whenever possible to friends who are grieving silently, putting on a happy face to prove to the world that they’re over ‘it’.
If you ever have the chance, remember that you can be that friend, too.