To grieve is to “live” death. It is to allow every feeling that the experience of losing someone can (and usually DOES) bring: sadness, anger, denial, sorrow, depression… It is a journey to accepting the person’s absency and an attempt to give a new meaning to the relationship.
“When we are sad we are pregnant with the future”, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in one of his books “Letters to a young poet”. The sentence is also useful for the sadness caused by the departure of a beloved one. Afterall, we are all compelled to be pregnant with a new future without the ones who letf us.
In this sense, grieving is a process. But it is also social construction and that’s why it got different “shapes” through time..
In the 18th century, death was a public event. The funeral procession was followed by children. The presence of the little ones in viweings was motivated because they believed the children could be angels who would help people who were dying to to reach heaven easily. In the beginning of the 19th century it was very usual to express suffering through screaming, crying outloud, dramatically, but with time this explosion of feelings started to be considered awkward and completely “outdated” in the beginning of the 20th century. From then on, grieving has become more and more uncommon. Sadness, no matter what kind it is, doesn’t take place in conversations anymore and has actually become inadivisable even in our private life. Medicines were developed to combat sadness. In a society that doesn’t accept losing anything (money, time, youth) we don’t know how to deal to inevitable losses in life anylonger.
We are afraid of talking about death and if we do so we knock on wood three times, asking for protection. We believe that when we talk about it we are, somehow, attracting it. When we deny death, we miss the opportunity to live life fully. Someone who has been through near-death experiences usually looks over choices because knowing about the end reminds us that life is unique and that time (the one that cures everything) goes by. It is going by right now, while I write these lines. And also while you read them.
This is a text defending the presence of deathsadness and grieving. “When we are sad we are pregnant with the futre…”.