Saturday, May 13, 2006


Is there time to grieve? On the news on the Swedish equivalent of NPR, they are talking about miscarriages. One out of five pregnancies ends up in a miscarriage. Most of them so early on that the couple have not yet told family and friends about the pregnancy. What the program was talking about is how this made it harder for the couple to express their grief and get sympathy from people in their surroundings. That it made it even more painful not being able to talk about it in the same way “visible loss” is talked about.

But even if the couple have told every body that they where pregnant: it’s still hard to express how sad you are for them if they lose it. The Swedish language does not have a good expression for saying “I’m sorry for your loss”. I don’t think Swedes are supposed to talk that much about feelings when you look at the vocabulary we have to work with actually. How do I tell my friend who just lost her few week old fetus that I was so looking forward to meeting this new little person who where about to move in with them? How sorry I am that I never will have that opportunity. How do I tell my wonderful friend and her awesome boyfriend that I know they will be fantastic parents one day because this is just the beginning of their making of a family? That I am so sorry they had to go through these hardships and feel this loss. They are allowed to grieve for as long as they need.

But does the life we live today allow us to take the time to grieve? Don’t you always have something that has to be done at work (or the office will collapse…), or some social activity you just can’t ruin by moping around at? Why is that? Shouldn’t the healing of our soul be one of the most important things we do? And I’m not saying that we should do nothing BUT grieve. Our brains and our hearts are big enough to hold both the love for what we have and the mourning of what we lost. There is a point when the grieving becomes destructive I think.

My sister and a friend of mine are both very good-hearted and wise women. They have always allowed me to grieve for as long as I want. Even if it’s for things that other people don’t think are important at all. Some things we grieve are just the loss of a possible something. Not the loss of an actual someone. It used to be that when I was told about a break-up for instance, I would always start saying things like “good riddance”, “glad you god rid of that slacker”, “he was such a loser anyway” and things of that fashion. Now I don’t. Even if I still think that (all the men who don’t want my friends are losers of course!), I’ve learned that they are entitled to mourn (even the biggest deadbeat!) because that’s what’s going to make us whole again. Just to keep on walking and not grieving must be like fixing a hole in a dam with bandage. One day the bandage will be too wet and the glue will be all gone – and the dam breaks. Trying to dam ones grief.

I need to give myself some time to contemplate. You do too.


Blogger mal said...

where do we find the line between contemplation and obsessiveness? I am not sure. I do agree that we need to really integrate our feelings when we experience a loss but like most Americans, I have been trained to stoicism in the face of adversity. I am still deciding if that is a good thing or not

11:32 AM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Mallory: I'm sure "stoicism in the face of adversity" was the only way to survive at one point. And no one loves a whiner, but I still believe that we can live fuller lives if we allow the whole spectrum of feelings. In an intellectual society there is room for more than just the strongest to survive. If we where to go back to how things once were (and still is in many parts of the world), showing signs of weakness would be bad. I don’t want to live in a place where only muscles and guns determine what is right. Maybe I misinterpreted what you meant?

2:00 PM  
Blogger Cheetarah1980 said...

I definitely agree with you. Sometimes losing the hope of something is just as bad as losing the actual thing itself. Oftentimes people are too quick to dismiss losses that aren't quite tangible. As long as it doesn't become obsessive we should all be granted the time to mourn what never was.

2:47 PM  
Blogger chris said...

You are right. we all have a right to grieve, even if what we are grieving over is not worth our tears.

8:11 PM  
Blogger mal said...

Asa, you do not misinterpret what I said at all, you carry it to its logical extension.

I agree with you, I would not care to live in society ruled by strength alone. There is too much of that in the world now.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Cheetarah: so true!

Chris: totally!

Mallory: glad I got it for once ;-)

12:25 PM  
Blogger nosthegametoo said...

I don't think there a words to express your concern. When you're close to someone, they'll feel it when you make yourself available.

3:04 PM  
Blogger ~Deb said...

I always find it hard to say the right words to someone who is grieving. “I’m sorry” doesn’t seem to cut it. It doesn’t even make sense sometimes if you really think about it. My sister had like 4 miscarriages that totally devastated her each time it happened. All you can do really is listen and be there for them.

Even life in general, when someone passes on, it’s all about ‘time’ and how the pain of it all seems to fade—but the memory of it will always be there. Once my sister finally had two beautiful children, her pain of the loss she had before seemed to disappear. I hope your friend will be okay.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Nettie said...

I think you stated it pretty well...

10:51 AM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Nosthegametoo: I hope you are right! Cause I'm terrible with expressing myself.

Deb: I agree that "I'm sorry" doesn't always make sense. But a lot of times it's better than nothing. For me it can even be like pulling the plug out of my self-control and all the tears start pouring out if someone who means it says it. I'm glad to hear about your sister, and thanks for caring about my friend :-)

Nettie: Well it's easier to write than to say it (for me at least). Thanks :-)

11:49 PM  
Blogger Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Asa, grieving is a process that works its way into different people I know in vastly different ways. I've had a good friend in Nova Scotia tell me that he just soldiers on after his wife of 40 years passed. I've known others to bury themselves in work both meaningful or menial. But I always respect a person to show their feelings and allow their grief to permeate my being in some small way.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Sober In the City said...

Grief is a neccessary process. Whevenever I have tried to avoid feeling grief, I have only stuffed it below the surface. It finds a way to come out when I least suspect it and usually over the silliest of things.

Now, I have to let myself feel it. Mourn. And after a fair amount of time, I start to pull myself out. But only after I feel it.

Great site. Glad I found you.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Åsa said...

Wayne Allen Sallee: I had to look up “permeate” – what a wonderful word! That was a nice way of seeing it. I hope your friend doesn’t “blow-up” in some way the day his grief needs an outlet.

Sober in the city: Doesn’t that always happen though: when things come out, it’s never at an appropriate time! That’s why I believe (as do you from what it seams) we all need to actually mourn.

8:44 AM  

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