Grief: What is the Rush to be “Ok”?

The more  I listen to bereaved people recounting their early days, weeks and months in grief, a consistent story emerges. Most of them can relate to or describe the pressure they felt (for some as early as the funeral!) to be healed, ok, and back to normal soon – a few weeks, couple months tops and definitely before Summer or Christmas.

This pressure to not grieve has complicated many grief journeys as people succumb to it and try to be “ok” when they aren’t. Using phrases like,

  • There was some closure at the funeral.
  • I just need to move on.
  • Well, I don’t want to live in the past.

Each of these can be a signal that this person is trying their hardest not to grieve but knows in their deepest self, that grieving is precisely what they need to do.

The clincher to this pressure is that it holds appeal.

What if I could be ok soon? Maybe I don’t have to really grieve this? Maybe there’s a shortcut or if I just pretend I’m ok, I’ll actually BE ok.

There is often a conflict for the bereaved person who longs for “normal”. The thing is, their normal is gone and that loss is the entire source of their grief.

So, grieving people live in this dance between wanting normality; joy, fun, regular living – and wanting to be in their grief. Grief can be a comforting source of connection with their loved one. Most grieving people who do the work of grief, hold their connection to the loss as a precious thing.

All of this conflicts with the desire we have in our society for people to be “ok”. This misplaced desire overlooks the fact that 1.  Grieving  people often want to maintain a relationship with their grief and 2. Grieving people are OK – they are doing exactly what they need to do in their life circumstance.

I can assure you that someone in grief does not want to stay there all the time or for their whole life.

There is a dual desire to live with the reality of their loss and to find joy and lightness in life again. Life has so much to offer and joy is available to anyone seeking it. The obstacle grieving people encounter is that their familiar path to joy has been shaken, shattered, or washed out completely. It takes time to assess the damage, design the new road, find the materials, and start construction. It’s a massive undertaking that doesn’t benefit structurally by rushing the process or cutting corners.

Grief becomes something we learn to live with and enfold into our life story. It doesn’t stay constantly achy, sharp and stingy – it resolves itself into our new normal.

To the person who is feeling the pressure to “move on” – I ask you, “What is the rush? Is hurry a wise move?”

To those who apply this pressure or just think this is how we should treat grief, – I ask you, “Why? What is the rush?” Letting a friend be honestly in their sorrow can be a very loving thing.

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

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