Memorial Day Grief


I read an article today about grief…it was a tangential subject.  Our Vice President spoke to a group of people who lost loved ones in the war, and he said he could understand how someone could be driven to take their own life by such great grief.  I read that intro section a couple of times…I couldn’t believe I was reading that in a national publication.  Someone admitting that trauma can lead to suicidal thoughts?  Well, now we’re getting somewhere.

I was astounded to find myself connecting with this man (don’t spread it around), when I never have been able to before.  He also experienced great loss, not in a war scenario, but in his personal life.  And he suffered the loss, not just of the loved ones, but also of the entire life they lived together, and it affected him profoundly.  I know of whence he speaks.

People don’t like to talk about the idea of someone wanting to “end”.  But it happens.  If I could change one thing about MANKIND (the giant concept), it would be that compassion become interstitial to all human beings.  I mean real compassion.  Not just the oh-crap-I’m-about-to-be-inconvenienced kind of so called compassion; I mean the real deal. Because when there is great loss there is also GREAT suffering, and either people choose to ignore that fact, they really don’t get it, or they just don’t want to be bothered.  I hope it wasn’t always this way.

I like to think that at some time in the past, people really got it that sometimes people are really hurt and really need love and compassion to help them heal.  I like to think that at some point in the past, people showed up to lift up the wounded, whether or not they actually looked broken on the outside.  I like to think that at some point people put down their robes and gavels, stopped judging and preaching and actually lent a hand.  I like to think it USED to be that way, because it certainly isn’t today.  People say, “Get over it”, ‘Move on with your life”, “You’ve been through this before”…without really thinking about what the real situation is, how the person’s heart is working or not working…how wounded they really are.  Even when people seem okay, if you really look at them…you can SEE their pain.  I know; I’ve been testing that theory and guess what?  I’m right 100% of the time…so far.  I’ve had a lesson in compassion and I’m trying VERY hard to get it right. Somebody has to.

Compassion…I think…means that it doesn’t matter how I think the other person SHOULD feel; it means that the other person feels what they feel and they need love, to know they are not alone, encouragement that they will make it through the valleyTODAY because my hand is there, reaching out, for as long as it takes.  I think that’s what it means.  Because if there is a hand reaching out to me, giving me a lift up, even for just the next step; then I don’t think about giving up, checking out, cashing in. 

You get the impression that compassion isn’t necessarily easy.  I think that’s exactly right.  I think compassion can be tiring, expensive, annoying, inconvenient.  Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s right too. But my little inconvenience is statistically insignficant if the other person is about to die or THINKS they are about to die…or wishes to.  So I’m calling mankind, manUNkind for now because that’s the reality, too many times.

The bottom line in the Veep’s message was this: I get it. It’s not just about the person you lost.  It is also about the trauma of losing the whole life built around that person; and that kind of trauma is so bad that it can make you want to cease to exist.  I think that we should remember that, not just for this Memorial Day, but also for the WHOLE rest of the year.  Every time we decide someone has had time to ‘get over’ something, first, we should feel bad that we think we’re worthy of that judgment, and then we should ask ourselves when was the last time I asked them how they are feeling…and did I really even care about their answer.  Final step: DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

ACTION: That’s the key. 

If we have any love in us, we must know that compassion is not just important’ it should be the quintessence of humankind.  Compassion is Godlike, it is crucial.  It means more than any material item we collect…or it should. I suppose it depends upon what or whom you worship. Regardless:  If we don’t have compassion, we are poor indeed.


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