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As a grief counselor who underst...

Posted Sep 29 2008 10:07pm

As a grief counselor who understands the importance of coming together and ritual healing and recognition and a life long Yankee fan (and season ticket holder), I have been watching the Virginia Tech / Yankee game pregame and game with tears in my eyes the whole time.

Update 3/19: The game meant a lot to Virginia Tech who posted 147 pictures of the event on their website: Yankee Exhibition Game and wrote about it in their paper and this article echoes what I said here yesterday about healing: VT coverage of baseball game
When the Yankees gave Virginia Tech money last May they told them, “A lot of people are going to forget you in two months but we won’t.” I’m fairly impressed by that statement because two months is about all the patience most people seem to have for our grief whether it’s an enormous tragedy or something smaller. People just have very little tolerance for other people’s grief. And that is why we repress it and deny it and ignore and give up processing it before we’re ready. Because we sense other people are tired of it and we will ourselves to move on or we just stuff it completely to not upset other people.

People start to think we should be over it, no matter what it is, after 6-8 weeks. Considering that society gives you 3 whole days off from work when there’s a death, they probably think that 6-8 weeks is a lot.

It’s not. We need to grieve as long as we need to. We need to recognize our grief and work through it, feel it, and recognize our losses all along the way.

Grief IS a combination of recognizing our losses, honoring them, feeling our feelings and continuing to move on as we can. It’s about getting better and living life as we were meant to live it. We don’t forget but we integrate not only the loss but the experience before the loss AND the experience of working through a loss. We get better and stronger and then we have tolerance for other people’s grief. More than two months worth of tolerance.

Working through a loss makes us stronger. We also meet the most unbelieveable people along the way. I see it all the time. If this work was not healing and if reaching out and helping people was not the most unbelievable thing in the world, I wouldn’t do it. It’s watching people identify with each other in seminars, it’s hearing the “click” when someone “gets” it…it’s watching people come out of the darkness and say, “ It’s time to live again.”

We find healing in places with other people who are hurting and we help each other move on. If we heal and do our work and help others, that is how healing happens. We recognize our own and other people’s losses.

It’s not about forgetting in two months or when people THINK we should be over it. It’s about finding our grief and giving it voice and talking to others who understand.

In a month Virginia Tech will be feeling the anniversary grief and remembering and a lot of stuff will be coming up and coming back. Today it’s a time for remembering and for recognizing and for celebrating life without forgetting. I’m in New York City. We understand this only too well.

This is how the grief process works no matter what the loss is. It’s about time, remembering, feeling, and living life as the grief process goes on….not forgetting but understanding the cycle of life.

It’s about being good to yourself and celebrating life again and having fun does not mean forgetting. In fact, it sometimes means I remember and I honor that by living my life and doing the best I can.

Stephen Levine said, “ The road is hard. Love softens it.”

Take care of yourself and each other and honor and be patient with grief. Yours and others.


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